We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the families we love, the friends we cherish and for the blessings that will come
The ham, turkey and pecan pie may be the same as always, but growing numbers of families plan to add a tradition to their Thanksgiving holiday this week: a frank talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
Often, though, no one wants to broach the subject, even when they think they should. A 2013 Conversation Project survey found that while 90 percent of people said it’s important to have end-of-life discussions with their loved ones, fewer than 30 percent had done so.
Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, the agency behind Five Wishes, a popular living will, says requests for the documents that guide decisions surrounding serious illness and death typically surge during the holidays. Malley and other experts in end-of-life talks say the holidays are an ideal time to have hard conversations about final preferences and plans.
“People come home for the holidays,” said Ellen Goodman, the longtime columnist and reporter who co-founded The Conversation Project, which provides kits to kick-start end-of-life discussions. “It’s one of those times when we’re together. It’s something that’s important to talk about.”
There’s a lot to consider, from how much information the doctor should share with the family, to which family member will be the primary decision maker. Thinking through these decisions before a medical crisis — “at the kitchen table,” and not in the intensive care unit — will help you make decisions based on what you value most, without the influence of stress and fear.
So,this Thanksgiving make if a priority to have these conversations with your loved ones; these conversations matter and are needed to learn about your loved one’s wishes so that those wishes can be honored at the end of life.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network Team