When we were young, our parents sat us down and talked about important subjects including family, school, friendships-and sometimes sex. Now the roles are reversed and we need to talk to our parents about their major issues of life and death.
A most important book is The Conversation by Dr. Angelo Volandes. Dr. Volandes is a physician at Boston General, who specializes in the care of terminally ill patients.
He traces the final journey of seven very different patients who faced the ultimate decisions of what kind of care each should receive. His involvement reached the maximum challenge when his own father, a tough Greek immigrant, had to confront those decisions.
Dr. Volandes is passionate in his argument that terminal patients should be involved in that decision-making.
In Minnesota that decision is contained in a document called a Health Care Directive. Sometimes it is called a Living Will or Advance Care Directive or Power of Attorney for health care. However, they all mean the same thing.
The author urges that each patient should sign a Health Care Directive. But more importantly the patient's family should sit down with him or her and discuss their wishes so they will be carried out.
The Conversation outlines a careful but compassionate way that "the conversation" can be conducted. If you have an elderly loved one who has health issues, I would strongly urge Dr. Volandes' book for your reading. It is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble