Ask A Geriatrician- by Dr. Susan Nelson

Ask A Geriatrician- by Dr.Susan Nelson

Is it difficult to engage in advance care planning?

Not at all! The key thing to do is have a conversation with your friends and family about what is most important to you with regard to your health care if you suddenly become very ill. The conversations that we have change as events occur in our lives and the lives of those we care about. The discussions are about whether you would or would not want life support but also how we want to live out our life if our health and function decline. For instance, if you are a robust 80 year old who cares for your great grandchildren every day, you might want a treatment which may allow you to keep your same level of function a few months or years longer. That same person might not want a treatment that is difficult-painful or lots of side effects-if it won’t change how much longer you live. You might also want to have a treatment for an easily fixable problem but would not want life support if you would not be able to stay in your own home. Most of us talk about wanting to die at home in our sleep “when the time comes” yet that is difficult to do without careful discussions with our health care team and those we love.