They want family to avoid the hallway huddle
You could learn a lot by asking a healthcare worker about the problems families run into when a loved one dies. “Time and again, hospice professionals see families in the hallway of the emergency room or ICU trying to figure out what Mom or Dad might have wanted, and that’s a very tough time to think these things through,” says Jon Radulovic, vice president of communications for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). “People often put more thought into preparing for the family vacation—the transportation, the timing, the meals—than planning for the end-of-life experience we’ll all have.” Here’s a fascinating look at how doctors choose to die.
They have these two health-related documents
As for the nuts and bolts of end-of-life planning, from a healthcare perspective there are two documents every adult should have. The first is the advance directive, also known as a living will, which spells out wishes regarding what medical care you don’t want (“no feeding tubes, please”), what you do want (“give me every treatment known to man”), and organ donation. “With these documents in place, your medical professionals will know exactly what your intentions are,” says Radulovic. The second step for preparing for death is picking your durable power of attorney for healthcare, also called a healthcare proxy or agent, which is the person you choose to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. “Sometimes that’s the person closest to you and sometimes not,” says Paula McMenamin, MSW, a medical social worker at The Elizabeth Hospice. “I’ve had patients say, ‘I know my husband would follow my wishes, but I don’t want to put that pressure on him so I’m choosing my sister.'”