Last week, the New York Times published an article by Jane E. Brody titled “Frank Talk About Care at Life’s End.” The article covered some of the thorny issues surrounding “the medical, humanitarian and economic value of helping terminally ill patients and and their families navigate treatment options as they approach the end of life.” Leaving aside the politics (politicians) and the political (New York State’s medical society), this topic raises fundamental questions from the perspective of elder mediation.
In any conflict, complete and accurate information is essential for good decision-making. If one or more parties is using inaccurate information or partial information, it is difficult to reach a good resolution — even if no emotional impact is involved. Add the emotional strain of end-of-life decision-making by families and a good decision-making process is very difficult even in a conflict-free family (if such a family exists.)
From the perspective of preventing, reducing, and resolving conflicts, more and accurate information for families means better decisions.