I think you should talk about your medical and end-of-life wishes when you are with your family at Thanksgiving. (Why does everyone laugh when I say this?) I am absolutely serious. It is a great time to talk as a group about what is important to you and how you would want to be cared for if you were seriously ill. The up side of talking as a group is that it takes the pressure off of the seniors in the family who would like to talk about their wishes but don’t know how to bring it up. It also takes the pressure off of the family members who want to talk to the elders in their family but don’t know how to bring it up.
A great way to begin the conversation is to use the Go Wish Cards. www.gowish.org
Look at this game on-line before you head over to the family and then use it as a starting place for your conversations. Or use my new advance directive quality-of-life statement as a tool to talk about what is important to you. You can find this at: http://kindethics.com/2012/11/my-new-quality-of-life-statement-to-attach-to-my-advance-directive/ You may also want to print out my Insider’s Guide to Filling Out Your Advance Directive which you can download at: http://thecaregiverspath.com/assets/pdf%27s/Insider%27s%20Guide%20-%20Viki%20Kind.pdf
The main thing is to make the conversation safe and fun. Yes I said fun. When I talked to my husband’s family about advance care planning, they got into the spirit of it and began arguing over which adult child was going to pull their dad’s plug when the time came. Of course this was a joke and represented the funny way his family communicates. As the conversation progressed, people were surprised by what the different family members wanted to write down in their advance directive. I tell you this because these can be interesting and insightful conversations. You may think you know your loved ones but you will be surprised by what they may tell you is important to them.
Ideally, bring a copy of your state’s advance directive for each member of the family. Feel free to forward them my quality-of-life statement and the instructions from my website.
This may be the most important holiday present you give and get this year.
Have a kind and respectful day.