Today’s New York Times included an article titled “End-of-Life Talks May Finally Overcome Politics” by Pam Belluck. The focus of the article was “advance care planning” and the growing interest in having important, if difficult, conversations about how we each want to live our last days.
Although the main points were mostly about possible Medicare and private insurance reimbursements, I was struck by the recurring concern about lessening the burden on families that is present when no advance planning has been made, memorialized, and communicated. The impending death of a loved one is inevitably stressful for a family, yet thoughtful planning can relieve some of the pain. As one of the patients who was interviewed for the article phrased it: “I just don’t want to put my kids through having to make these decisions.”
When family members know the preferences of an aging loved one, they are spared the agony — and the potential conflict– of trying to guess what the loved one would have chosen if in a position to make and communicate a choice.
Decisions around end-of-life planning should be part of everyone’s overall estate planning, for the sake of those who love them. It is a priceless gift.