Why difficult ‘end of life’ conversation is a true gift

29/06/2019 Posted by admin

NEVER TOO EARLY: Everyone should have a plan for what they would like to happen in the final stages of their life, Kate Munro says.In the event that you become too sick to speak for yourself – who would you like to speak for you?

Have you spoken to that person about the things you’d like to happen?

For many of us, thinking about the end of our life is not something we like to dwell on.

While plenty of people will have a list of things they would like to do before the end of their life – very few will actually think about death and have a conversation about what you would like to happen in your final days.

Itis National Advanced Care Planning week, encouraging everyone to prepare a plan for what they would like to happen in the final stages of their life.

About half of us will be unable to make our own medical decisions as we approach the end of our lives, despite this less than 15 per cent of Australians have a recorded Advanced Care Plan.

If you were very sick, it may fall to your family or close friends to make decisions about your health care.

That can be a very stressful time where your friends and family may not agree with approaches to your care.

If you have an Advanced Care Plan in place where you talk about the care you want to receive, this can help them make decisions on your behalf.

We often think of planning for the end of our lives when we get older but you never know when you might be in an accident, or face a serious health condition.

It is never too early to start planning.

Planning for your care can take time, and many conversations with those around you. It is your opportunity to think about what you value, and the treatments you would choose to have, or not have.

Talking with your family and friends about your wishes for care if you are seriously ill or approaching the end of your life is a loving gift to them.

It helps to ease the burden of decision making if they know what your choices are.

Starting planning can be the hardest part.

Advanced Care Planning Australia provide some excellent tips for getting started, including a personal guide that asks you to consider some questions before you talk to your loved ones, such as your past experiences with health care and what you liked and didn’t like.

Once you’re ready to talk to your friends and family, conversation starters including what makes life worth living, what abilities do you need to maintain, what would you like to happen if you no longer recognise or understand your family, can help ease family and friends into the conversation.

Once you’ve talked to your friends and family you should write down your preferences, as future circumstances can’t be predicted.

The information contained in your plan will help your nominated decision maker to decide on what you want.

Your completed Advanced Care Plan can be added to your My Health Record, but you should also make sure your nominated person, family and doctor have a copy.

Whatever your age, whether you are fit and well or living with chronic disease, or even a life-limiting illness, it is important to have the conversation early and often.

This will give you time to discuss what is truly important to you.

For more information on how to plan for your end-of-life and making an Advanced Care Plan, visit patientinfo.org.au

Kate Munro, End of Life Care Coordinator,Hunter New England Health

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