The Uncomfortable Conversation about Healthcare Decisions

It’s the Holidays and we all want to talk about Happy Times and Happy Memories. No one wants the memory of my friend who will always remember that just days after Christmas he was called to the hospital he was only 27, his grandmother was gravely ill. His parents were out of town and could not be reached so the doctors and nurses asked him if his grandmother wanted to be put on a breathing tube, she was 78 but had been ill for a long time.

He did not know what to do or say, and she did not have anything in writing so she ended up on a breathing tube in agony for over a week before she passed away. He regretted his decision because during that week it had become clear to him that this was not what she would have wanted.

So while the discussion of how much intervention you would want at the end of life is not a good topic for the big family gatherings, it is a discussion you must have. It is a discussion that needs to be confirmed in writing.

If you are 18 or over you need an Advance Health Care Directive (Living Will), so your wishes are written down. In addition if you are suffering from a chronic or terminal illness you also want to have your Physician complete a POLST.