Starting the dialogue ... with your primary doctor

Regardless of your age or current health condition, it’s a good idea for your doctors to know about your health care wishes. Predicting what treatments that people will want if they were suddenly incapacitated or if they were approaching the end of life is difficult. Not all people have the same health care wishes in each situation. Your doctor is probably waiting for you to start that conversation. Since people’s wishes change as their condition and age changes, it is important to have that conversation with your doctor often. 

When you are with your doctor, it is okay 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 health care directive, it would be a good idea to give a copy to your doctor and discuss it with him or her to ensure they are in agreement with your wishes. The law does not force doctors to follow your directives if they disagree with your wishes for moral or ethical reasons. Please see the Create Your Advance Directive page for information on how to create your advance directive.