Regardless of your age or current health condition, it is a good idea for your health care providers to know about your health care wishes. Predicting what treatments you will want if you suddenly were incapacitated or if you are approaching the end of life is difficult. Not all people have the same health care wishes in each situation. Your health care provider probably is waiting for you to start that conversation. Since wishes change as your condition and age changes, it is important to have that conversation with your provider often.
When you are with your provider, it is OK to ask about what the end of life may look like and what treatment options are available. Some questions you may ask are:
- Will you talk openly and candidly with me and my family about my illness?
- What kind of decisions will I and my family have to make?
- How will you help us make decisions about my illness?
- What will you do if I have uncomfortable symptoms?
- Will you be available to me when I am close to the end of my life?
- How will you care for me throughout my illness?
When you complete your Advance Directive, give a copy to your provider to discuss it with him or her to ensure they are in agreement with your wishes and to document in your electronic health record. Note that the law does not force providers to follow your directives if they disagree with your wishes for moral or ethical reasons. Please see Create Your Advance Directive for information on how to create your advance directive.