It's an uncomfortable topic for most people to deal with, but it's still important: What decisions do we need to make around the end of our lives.
Dr. Renee Crichlow, the Assistant Program Director at the University of Minnesota's North Memorial Family Medicine Program, says discussions about these things can be hard, but waiting until a crisis makes it harder.
You need to be having discussions with anyone who may be a part of your end of life decision making, she said, typically this is a family member and/or significant others.
It's especially important to discuss your values — how you want to live and what is important to you when your end is near. That might include being around family, being at home, being on machines and your choices regarding end of life and possible clinical interventions which you may or may not want, Crichlow said.
Often people don't consider the burden of choices families may go through if the patient has not explicitly expressed end of life choices, Crichlow said. A well expressed end of life document is the last best gift we can give to our loved ones.
Crichlow recommends meeting with your family doctor and bringing the person who would speak for you if you were unable to speak for yourself. A doctor who has known you for a while can be a powerful advocate for your end of life choices, but only if you have had the discussions, she said.