5 things you should know about end-of-life conversations

Death, while inevitable, is one of the most difficult things for most people to talk about. But a growing national movement warns that not talking about death can make end-of-life even more difficult for you, your family and loved ones.

Advocates say too many people in this country die in a way they may not want to, simply because they never thought or talked about it. Family members are often left to make tough decisions without knowing what their loved ones want.

Now, Medicare is considering covering conversations about end-of-life care between doctors and patients, and some insurers have started paying for these consultations.

Boston-based nonprofit The Conversation Project has developed a “Starter Kit” to begin the talk they believe will help people prepare for what’s to come.

Here are 5 things that advocates from the The Conversation Project say you should know about starting this conversation with your loved ones. Learn more by downloading the group’s starter kit, linked above.

1. You can start out by writing a letter—to yourself, a loved one, or a friend — and you might consider having a practice conversation with someone you trust.

2. Try finishing the sentence ‘What matters to me at the end of life is…’

3. You can broach the topic by saying things like “I was thinking about what happened to , and it made me realize…” or “I need to think about the future. Will you help me?”

4. You don’t have to steer the conversation; just let it happen.

5. Keep in mind there are legal and medical documents you should think about producing, including an Advanced Care Planning, an Advance Directive, a Health Care Proxy and a living will.

In the meantime, we invite you to consider: #WhatMattersMost to you in the end?  Join us on Thursday for a Twitter chat with PBS NewsHour about end of life conversations and how to get them started with your loved ones.