The conversation you may be avoiding (but shouldn’t)

Think about how much you plan for: children’s education, buying a house, saving for retirement. But there’s one situation many people don’t plan for – how they want to be taken care of if they become sick or have a serious, life-threatening illness.

A national survey by The Conversation Project found that 90 percent of people said talking to their loved ones about end-of-life care was important – but only 26 percent had done it.

What about you?

Making a plan

Writing out your wishes in what’s called an “advance directive” helps guide the doctors caring for you. It also helps your family make decisions on your care.

“It can be difficult to make level-headed decisions about a loved one’s care when you’re feeling emotional,” said Dr. Wayne Rawlins, vice president and chief medical officer at ConnectiCare and board member of Care Decisions Connecticut. “No one wants to second guess if they made the right choice at such a critical time. Having an advance directive takes a weight off of everyone involved.”

In Connecticut, an advance directive includes:

  • A living will includes things like  your wishes if you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious or are in a persistent vegetative state. It can also specify  the type of care you do and don’t want– things like CPR, tube feeding and other forms of life support.
  • Your appointment of a health care representative. This is the person you designate to make health care decisions for you if you aren’t able to make them yourself. Choosing someone you can count on to follow through on your wishes is important.

There’s help in many places

The state of Connecticut has put together a health care planning packet. It helps explain your rights and walks you through the steps to complete your advance directive (it includes the forms to fill out, too).

Care Decisions Connecticut has information for individuals, their families and health care providers. It was created by the Connecticut Hospital Association, others in health care and state government. You can follow them on Facebook.

Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care works to train and help nurses, doctors and others who treat people in palliative or hospice care.

When it’s time to talk

Once you’ve made your plan, you need to let your family members (and your doctor) know your wishes. The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. It has starter kits to help both you and family members “have the conversation.”

Please note: The information posted, or in links provided, are not legal advice or a recommendation regarding any legal issues described herein. Nothing in this article should be interpreted in any way as constituting the giving of legal advice, or the practice of law.  If you have legal questions about your advance directive, you should talk to an attorney.