We all make choices on a daily basis - choices about where we live, where to travel, what career to pursue. One of the most important choices we face, yet rarely talk about, is our choice for future medical care.
It is a difficult conversation, and one I am honored to facilitate. As a financial planning professional, I have always made sure my clients have estate planning documents in place. This includes naming a healthcare proxy for themselves as well as for their adult children.The healthcare proxy will make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are unable to speak for themselves.
I encourage my clients to be thoughtful when choosing a healthcare proxy. Often, our spouse or child may not be the right person to take on this emotionally difficult role. Questions to ask, include: - will their emotional connection to you get in the way of their making decisions on your behalf ? and - will they be able to make decisions in changing situations?
Once a healthcare proxy is chosen, it is important to communicate what kind of end-of-life care you want while you are capable of making your own decisions. Talking about these issues is not easy. Harder still is the position your loved ones will be in if they have to make decisions on your behalf without any prior knowledge of your wishes and preferences.
Atul Gawande, the physician and author of Being Mortal, lists 5 questions to ask, such as: - what potential (medical) outcomes are unacceptable to you? what are you willing, and unwilling to sacrifice in terms of quality of life? what would you want a good day to look like?
Death Over Dinner is a project that encourages people to have this conversation by hosting a dinner party where they "fill their tables with comfort food, family and friends and start talking about how they want to live the last days of their lives." According to the website deathoverdinner.org, Death Over Dinner was launched in August 24, 2013. On that night they tracked over 500 dinners in 20 countries. Since then, there have been over 100,000 dinners hosted around the globe.
If you are interested in being part of a Death Over Dinner conversation, please let me know!