Ask Tough Questions
If you or someone you love is very ill, ask tough questions Ask Your Doctor
- Will you talk openly and candidly with me and my family about my
- What decisions will my family and I have to make, and what kinds of
recommendations will you give to help us make these decisions?
- Will you advocate for me with my insurance provider or health plan if you
believe that their decisions are not in my best interest?
- What will you do if I have pain or other uncomfortable symptoms?
- How will you help us find excellent professionals with special training
when we need them (for example, medical, surgical and palliative care
specialists, faith leader, social workers, etc.)?
- Will you let me know if treatment stops working so that my family and I can
make appropriate decisions?
- Will you support me in getting hospice care?
- If I reach a point where I am too sick to speak for myself, how will you
make decisions about my care?
- Will you still be available to me even when I'm sick and close to the end
of my life?
Ask Your Family
- Will you seek out information about my disease, advance directives, your
roles as caregivers, and what to expect as I get sicker and near the end of
- Will you respect my wants and needs, even if they're different from what
they used to be, or if you don't agree with my choices?
- If I cannot communicate for myself, will you speak for me to make sure that
what I've asked for is done, even if you would make different choices
- Will you talk with me openly and lovingly about any unfinished business
between us and listen if I need to apologize or ask forgiveness for anything in
the past that has hurt you?
- Will you care for yourself so that you are not exhausted from caring for me
or watching me get sicker?
- Will you stay with me even if the going gets rough?
Ask Your Spiritual Caregiver
- Will you understand and support my need for my spiritual self to be
nourished and to grow, even as my physical being deteriorates?
- If I have negative feelings like frustration, sadness, despair, anger at
God or life, will you listen empathetically?
- Will you help me if I have problems communicating with my family or
- Will you continue to visit me even if I get very sick or can no longer
- Will you visit with my family and help them with their spiritual concerns
about my illness?
- Will you just sit and be with me, even if I don't want to talk?
Ask Your Health Care Agent
- Are you willing to be my health care agent and make medical decisions for
me when I am no longer able?
- Will you be able to make decisions for me if they are what I want? Even if
they are not what you would choose for yourself?
- Are you willing to advocate on my behalf?
- Will you be able to ask the doctor for more information if you don't
understand a treatment?
- Will you be able to make a medical decision and change it later if the
treatment is not having the intended benefit?
WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
© 2005 Revised. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. All rights reserved.