As we all know our life can end quickly, or take days, months or longer, suffering a progressively debilitating illness. Below are questions to reflect on and discuss with your family, friends and doctor to help you and those around you understand what kind of care and/or intervention you would like. That conversation may or may not be possible with the time comes.
Four Important Questions
1. What kinds of health care do you feel strongly about having or not having based on your past experiences?
2. Are there any personal, cultural or religious beliefs which you feel are important to honor in making these difficult decisions?
3. Your legal Health Care Representative makes health care decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself. Who do you choose to be your Health Care Representative? Alternatives if they are not available.
4. What do you think will be very important to you at the end of your life? Some choices are:
- to avoid pain and suffering as much as possible
- to be with family and friends
- to be mentally aware
- to be free of life-supporting machines
- to feel the touch of others
- to have support from a spiritual advisor
- to not be a burden to others
- to fight to extend my life regardless of the intensity of care required
- to be able to enjoy my three favorite things
- other concerns
The Advance Directive and POLST gives specific instructions to reflect your wishes, especially important if you cannot speak for yourself. Minimally, it is advised to have the Advance Directive completed and discuss it with your family/health care representative and physician.
Oregon Advance Directive: Is a medially accepted document that states your wishes as to care and assigns health representatives. This goes into your medical records.
POLST: Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment
Is a legally binding document to be completed by you and signed by your physician that goes into your medical records. To get a copy and further explanation use this link.
Resources for assisting with the difficult conversation
Hospice Gives Foundation HG is offering free online workshops on How to Have the Conversation and offers a great reading and viewing list. hospicegiving.org
“Wishes and Prayers“, compiled by Rev. Mary Piper. To assist with more detailed preparation, this document covers more than medical care preferences, and can act as a check list for the many unique personal preferences and practical matters that need to be addressed. View & Download Here
Go Wish Cards. Go Wish gives you an easy, even entertaining way to talk about what is most important to you. The cards help you find words to talk about what is important if you were to be living a life that may be shortened by serious illness. To order use the link. http://www.gowish.org/