Discussing Death for Better Healthcare

MGN Online
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RENO, NV - Death is a subject most of us try to avoid. The thought of losing someone we love makes us uneasy, and unwilling to go into detail. Failing to share your feelings about your medical care could lead to confusion. That's why experts across the country are encouraging you to sit down with your family this month, and have an open, honest discussion about death.

Polls show the majority of Americans would prefer to die at home with their loved ones, but only about 25% of us do. That's because we fail to have the conversation before the time comes. In some cases it leads to unnecessary medical costs and heroic measures you may have refused. "It's not just for seniors," says social worker Jennifer McDuffee. "It's for anybody, because anything can happen." She helps people with advanced directives. Answering just 6 questions can help doctors better understand how you would like to be treated should you become unable to communicate.

Wednesday, April 16th has been designated National Healthcare Decisions Day, putting the focus on living wills and advanced directives. Websites http://www.nhdd.org/ walk you through questions you should consider about your health. Before you create a living will, you may need to have a discussion with those who matter most to you. A group of Masters In Communications students at University of Washington developed a site aimed at just that. The site "Let's Have Dinner and Talk About Death" helps you organize a dinner party. The interactive guide helps you decide what to talk about, and who to invite. It even helps you send out an email invitation with a list of topics to get people thinking.

KOLO 8 Web Editor Trevor Smith recently lost his mother. He says having a discussion about her care, reduced the stress of her last days. "Once she passed, we felt ok because there were no questions," he says.

If you would like more information about starting a discussion about health care and death, please check out the links to the right.