A friend told me recently that she was concerned about her father, who lived alone and about 6 hours away from her. His health had deteriorated, and she wasn’t sure how much longer she would have with him. He didn’t want to leave his home but he also seemed unable to care for himself, thus worsening his health conditions. He also refused to accept any help coming into the home.
If something were to happen to him, the family didn’t know any of his wishes. They didn’t know when his will was last updated, what he wanted or didn’t want at the end of his life, nor where any documents were located in the house. She had a trip planned to see him and she wanted to ask some questions. However, she was afraid. She didn’t know how to bring it up and didn’t want to offend him; she just wanted to know where his details were located if something were to happen to him.
This is probably a scenario that many of us face. We want to do the right thing by our loved ones, to know their wishes at the end-of-life and how they want decisions to be made. Yet, we are afraid to ask for fear of offending them. When things inevitably do happen at the end-of-life, it doesn’t go as well as it could have if we had talked about it. How do we go about having these conversations?
I pointed my friend to a resource that Baptist Care SA created called My Choices: https://baptistcaresa.org.au/resources/my-choices-resource. It’s a free resource (in pdf or word format) that helps gather information in one place that can be helpful for “personal choices and practical preparations to facilitate end-of-life support.” It includes information about how to have the conversation, personal administration, medical history, preferences for care, and dying wishes. “My Choices” isn’t an advanced care directive or a will but compliments those resources. It’s a great place to start.
The holidays are coming and most of us will be spending time with our loved ones. If you had one question to ask about end-of-life care and wishes, what would it be? Perhaps you could say,
“It’s really important to me that I honour your wishes and plans if anything were to happen to you. How would I know what those wishes and plans are?”
If they don’t have an answer for you, then maybe you could point them to the Baptist Care SA resource and encourage them to fill it out and let their loved ones know where the information is stored.
For information about advanced care directives for your state visit: http://agooddeath.org.au/engage/
For the “My Choices” resource, visit: https://baptistcaresa.org.au/resources/my-choices-resource