Do You Know What Matters To Me at the End of My Life?

Do You Know What Matters To Me at the End of My Life?

By Victor Montour

It’s not easy to talk about how you want the end of your life to be. But it’s one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones. Front Range Hospice has partnered with the Conversation Project to help you have The Conversation.

What is the Conversation Project, You ask? Let me tell you, The Conversation Project is not about filling out Advance Directives or other medical forms. It’s about talking to your loved ones about what you or they want for end-of-life care. Whether you’re getting ready to tell someone what you want, or you want to help someone else get ready to talk. We want to help you to be the expert on your wishes and those of your loved ones. Not the doctors or nurses. Not the end-of-life experts.  You.

Pam Ware CEO/Owner of Front Range Hospice has completed the program provided by The Conversation Project so she can present this wonderful program to people in the communities we serve and beyond. When you attend The Conversation Project presentation, Pam takes you on a journey of personal experience with the end of life process.

You don’t want to talk about dying, one thing’s for sure—you’re not alone. There are a million reasons to avoid having the conversation. But it’s vitally important. Pam and the Front Range Hospice team are here to help you and your loved ones have The Conversation.

Why talk about it now you ask?  Consider the following facts before you avoid The Conversation again. There’s a big gap between what people say they want and what actually happens.

  • 60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important”
  • 56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

  • 70% of people say they prefer to die at home
  • 70% die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility

Source: Centers for Disease Control (2005)

  • 80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care
  • 7% report having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

  • 82% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing
  • 23% have actually done it

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

Once you attend one of the Conversation Project presentations provided by Pam, you’ll see that this isn’t really about dying—it’s about figuring out how you want to live, till the very end. The Conversation Project will help you think about the things that are most important to you. It will help you think about what you value most. It will help you think about what you can or cannot imagine living without.  “What matters to me at the end of my life is _____” the questions everyone should know the answer to.

Sharing your “What matters to me” statement with your loved ones could be a big help down the road. It could help them communicate to your doctor what abilities are most important to you—what’s worth pursuing treatment for and what isn’t.

When you think about the last phase of your life, what’s most important to you?
How would you like this phase to be?

  • Would you prefer to be actively involved in decisions about your care?
    Or would you rather have your doctors do what they think is best?
  • Are there circumstances that you would consider worse than death?
    (Long-term need of a breathing machine or feeding tube, not being able to recognize your loved ones)
  • Where do you want (or not want) to receive care?
    (Home, nursing facility, hospital)
  • What kinds of aggressive treatment would you want (or not want)?
    (Resuscitation if your heart stops, breathing machine, feeding tube)
  • When would it be okay to shift from a focus on curative care to a focus on comfort care alone?

The Conversation Project will help you think about these questions and the basics like, who do you, want to talk to? When is a good time to talk? Where would you feel comfortable talking? What do you want to be sure to say? Lastly and most important, how to start the conversation.

You may or may not already know what you want to talk about and that’s great. It’s important for you to remember that this conversation will bring up some strong emotions in some individuals. The following is a small list of suggestions to consider before, during and after you have The Conversation with your loved ones.

  • Be patient. Some people may need a little more time to think.
  • You don’t have to steer the conversation; just let it happen.
  • Don’t judge. A “good” death means different things to different people.
  • Nothing is set in stone. You and your loved ones can always change your minds as circumstances shift.
  • This is the first of many conversations—you don’t have to cover everyone or everything right now.

If you would like more information about Front Range Hospice and The Conversation Project please call 303-957-3101 or 970-776-8080 or email us at info@frhospice.com

Watch out for our next blog: Attending Physician – You Have a Choice

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About Front Range Hospice- Legendary Care

Front Range Hospice is a center for excellence in providing end-of-life care and we continue to strive to keep our company achieving distinction. Visit us at www.frhospice.com.
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