Vicki Barron: Have ‘the conversation’ |

Vicki Barron: Have ‘the conversation’

To the editor:

Why wait until a health crisis arises or a terminal diagnosis is received to make your wishes known? Have you started thinking about and talking about how you want the end of your life to be? As hospice providers, we work with families facing these tough questions each day.  

There is no absolute right or wrong way to make these decisions — starting “the conversation” just offers time to express, change and honor these wishes. It’s one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones. We want you to be the expert on your wishes and those of your loved ones.

When end of life is not imminent, there is time to revisit the conversation as you feel like it, not under pressure. It gives great peace of mind to families when they know they are honoring your wishes, not guessing what your wishes are.

Why it’s important — consider the facts:

■ Sixty percent of people said that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important,” but 56 percent have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

■ Seventy percent of people said they prefer to die at home, but 70 percent die in a hospital, nursing home or long-term-care facility.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2005)

■ Eighty percent of people said that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care, but 7 percent report having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor.

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

■ Eighty-two percent of people said it’s important to put their wishes in writing.

But 23 percent actually have done it.

Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

Hospice providers can offer support and resources for those who would like to start having the conversation. Hospice care is for patients and their loved ones. Bereavement support continues for 13 months after someone has died. Patients often said that it is comforting to know that support is available for their loved ones.    

If you are interested in receiving a free Conversation Starter Kit, call the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association’s Hospice program at 970-871-7628. You’ll see that this isn’t really about dying — it’s about figuring out how you want to live, till the very end.

Vicki Barron, RN

Director of Home Services

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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