Where to Begin

Simply Begin With Yourself…Before a Crisis

#1 THINK about your values and what is important to you.
#2 LEARN about options for end-of-life care.
#3 DECIDE who would be the best person to speak for you (your “Health Care Agent”) if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Could they ask tough questions and make decisions based on your expressed wishes, even if your wishes differ from their own? Choose an alternate as well.
#4 DOCUMENT your preferences for care in an advance directive.
#5 TALK about it... with your health care agent, your family, and your health care providers. You cannot plan for every possible scenario, but you can discuss specific concerns, preferences, core values and feelings about quality of life.
#6 GIVE COPIES to: your health care agent, your alternate and your health care providers.

Talk with your physician It is important for your doctor to know your perspective about quality of life and the types of medical interventions you do and do not want at the end of life. If you are being treated for an advanced illness, discuss goals of treatment. When weighing the benefit and burden of treatment options, ask if the treatment will make a difference, what the expected side effects are, and how will it affect your quality of life. Discuss with your physician your desire to complete an advance directive. Information provided throughout this website can help prepare you to know what to ask. Once you have completed your directive, provide a copy for your physician. Make certain your physician’s office records include the contact information for your health care agent and the designated alternate. With advanced illnesses you most likely will have several treating physicians. Do not assume each physician automatically understands your goals for treatment. Ask about treatment side effects and how pain and other symptoms can be managed.

Talk with your faith leader You might find it of great comfort to talk with your faith leader about end-of-life issues. It can be helpful to seek guidance and counsel for questions about faith and other personal concerns. Discuss how your beliefs affect your attitude about dying and death. Let your faith leader know what religious rituals are important to you. Talk about what kind of support you would like to have for yourself and and your loved ones as you approach the end of your life.