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Talking to Mom about her last wishes

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My mother’s health is getting worse, and I suspect she’s nearing the end of her life. I want to talk to her about her last wishes, but it’s awkward to broach the subject. Help!

Talking about end of life issues can be one of the most difficult discussions of your life. However, it is important to know what your mother would like to have happen should she reach the end of her life. Find a quiet, private setting and ask for permission to discuss the topic. For example, “I would like to talk about how you would like to be cared for if you got really sick. Is that okay?” Try to maintain an understanding, comforting and non-judgmental demeanour and ask the right questions:

  • If you were diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, what types of treatment would you prefer?
  • Have you named someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so?
  • How would you like your choices honoured at the end of life?
  • What can I do to best support you and your choices?

Be sure to listen for the wants and needs that your loved one expresses and make it clear that what your loved one is sharing with you is important to you. Show empathy and respect by addressing these wants and needs in a truthful and open way.

Caregiver Solutions magazine is Canada's family guide to Home Health Care and Wellness

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