If you would like to share your wishes for end-of-life care, it’s important to have conversations with loved ones to convey your thoughts and feelings. The Conversation Project is a guide developed in conjunction with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to help individuals think about, clarify and communicate their wishes. Many decisions may be involved in end-of-life care, and conversations held well in advance of that time make it easier for family and caregivers to honor your wishes.

While research shows the majority of people say it’s important to talk about and plan for end-of-life issues, a much smaller percentage of people actually do so. Using guidelines from The Conversation Project (theconversationproject.org), you can address things like how much you want to know about your condition and treatment, how you would like your doctors to treat you, what kinds of treatment you would want or not, where you would like to receive treatment and for how long. Addressing these concerns allows individuals to identify how they would like to live the final days of their lives and helps to unburden family members who may be involved in their end-of-life care.

Another tool that can be used to consider end-of-life issues is called Five Wishes (agingwithdignity.org). When completed, it can be used as a living will to help individuals and their families plan ahead and cope with serious illness. In 42 states, including Connecticut, it meets the requirements of an advance directive. It identifies who you want to make your health care decisions if you no longer can, what kind of medical treatments you do or do not want, how comfortable you want to be in your final days, how you want to be treated by your loved ones and caregivers, and what you want your loved ones to know as your life ends.

April 16 to 22 is recognized as National Healthcare Decisions Week, so if you have not yet made plans that would include your wishes and help your loved ones, it might be a good time to consider starting those discussions.