How to Start “Tough Conversations” About Medical Care

Set aside time as soon as possible to have conversations with loved ones about your personal preferences for medical and/or long-term care. Here are some important issues to consider:  

∙ Whom do you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf? Whom do you NOT want to make decisions for you?

∙ How do you feel about feeding tubes, life support, and other artificial life-saving devices?

∙ Is there any type of medical care you would NEVER want?

∙ If you were permanently disabled or incapacitated, what would contribute or take away from your “quality of life?”

∙ What are your thoughts on nursing home vs. in-home healthcare?

∙ How would you like your family to pay for the care you may need if co-pays become excessive or insurance does not cover your treatment?

A Final Consideration about your choice of Healthcare Agent

One final point to consider when documenting your wishes and choosing a healthcare agent who will ultimately carry those wishes out, is that the person you nominate should want to have this responsibility. There are people who do not want or cannot handle making medical decisions, even for their own spouse.

Remember, if the time comes that the healthcare power of attorney needs to be used, it is going to be a very stressful and emotional time for your healthcare agent. Is he or she up for the job? Does he or she want the job? Take the time to have an additional conversation with whoever you are considering, ensuring that he or she can, and is willing to, make the decisions that you would want made in a crisis situation.