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For a young, healthy person, these conversations are probably the farthest thing from their mind. Instead, these important discussions often take place in the throes of an unexpected health crisis when it’s even more difficult.
Why do we need to talk about it? According to the organization Begin the Conversation, it’s best to begin end-of-life discussions early – as young 18. The earlier your wishes are documented, the better.
Sure, it’s natural to steer clear of talk about death and dying. The topics are scary. Nearly everyone hopes the end of their life is peaceful. We want to feel comforted, mentally and physically, by family, friends and health professionals.
While that scenario may sound ideal, the reality can be quite different if care and attention hasn’t been given to decisions in advance. Planning is key. Making your wishes and those of your family members known helps ensure the end of your life is more dignified, peaceful and in sync with your wishes.
Experts at Begin the Conversation say there are six steps to getting it right:
Need more inspiration before tackling the big conversation? Check out Compassion & Choices. This leading national nonprofit organization works to improve care and expand end-of-life choices. For more than 30 years, they’ve been nurturing people’s quality of life and given them added peace of mind in their final days. Today, they are helping change attitudes, practices and policies so everyone can access the information and options they need to have more control and comfort in their final days.
Originally published 5/26/2016; Revised 2021
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