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Once you have made your choices about who will serve as your healthcare agent and what treatment choices you make in your advance directive, it is time to talk about those decisions. Talking about these things now will make the decisions easier on your healthcare agent, your loved ones and your doctors.

Talk to Your Agent

Naming someone as your healthcare agent is a serious responsibility, and you should ask the person first if they are willing to make choices for you. Find a quiet place where you both feel comfortable having a serious talk. Discussing your own personal experiences or experiences your agent has had may help you both. Here are some suggestions for starting the conversation.

  • “I’d like your help with something important to me.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about what happened to (someone you know), and it helped me make some important decisions.”
  • “Even though I’m okay right now, I’m worried about what may happen in the future, and I want to be prepared. Will you help me?”

Once it is clear your agent is willing and open to the discussion, be sure to share with them what types of treatment you would want or not want. Below are some suggestions that will help your agent understand what matters most to you when making medical choices for you.

  • My life would not be worth living if…
  • At the end of my life, what matters most to me is…

Talk to Your Loved Ones

It is important to share your choices with your loved ones. Tell them who will be in charge of your healthcare decisions and share what type of decisions you have asked your agent to make for you. The more they know now, the less they have to worry later. Some find this topic difficult to discuss with people close to them. If you need help finding ways to start the conversation with your loved ones, below you will find some suggestions.

  • “I’ve been thinking about what happened to (someone you know), and I’ve made some decisions I’d like to share with you.”
  • “I’ve chosen (agent’s name) as the person who will make healthcare decisions for me if I can’t speak for myself. I want you to know what I’ve asked them to choose for me.”
  • “If we don’t talk about this now, we could end up in a situation that is even more uncomfortable.”

Talk to Your Doctor

Your doctors want to give you the best possible care, but they need your help to do this. Be a partner with your doctor and talk to them about what is most important to you. If you know what type of treatment you will want, tell your doctor what choices you have made. If you aren’t sure, talk to your doctor about your options. Ask them to explain what your options would be in the event of a sudden illness or injury.

Go to Step 3 – Write It Down.