Care at the End of Life - Important Decisions
Talking to your doctor continued...
Important questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is my diagnosis?
- What are my
treatment options? What are the side effects of these
- What do you think will happen if I choose not to treat
- How long do you think I have to live?
- Will you tell me when you think I am ready for hospice?
soon do I need to make a decision about which treatment to use (or to not
- How will my illness and care affect my loved ones?
Prepare for your appointments
by writing down your questions and concerns and taking this paper to your
appointment. This will help you remember to address the important issues.
As your illness progresses, you may become too ill to continue seeing
your doctor at a clinic or to talk on the telephone. If you wish to be at home
as you die, it is helpful to designate only one family member or friend to
communicate with your doctor. Choosing one reliable person to relay messages
will help avoid the confusion caused by several people trying to communicate
with your doctor.
Aggressive life-sustaining medical treatment
Discuss with your loved ones and doctor how you feel about life-sustaining
Tough choices include whether you want cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) performed on you if your heart stops. If you stop
breathing, a ventilator or respirator may be used to mechanically breathe for
you. Although mechanical ventilation can prolong your life, your remaining days
may be spent in the intensive care unit of a hospital connected to life-support
equipment. You may not be fully alert and may not be able to speak.
Talk to your doctor about your illness, specific treatment options, and
chances for recovery. Your family is a key part of this process. Discuss your
options with them and clearly state your wishes. Some people who are facing
death have strong and definite feelings about CPR, and the decision for or
against life support may be easy. For other people, this decision is extremely
For more information on this decision, see:
- Should I Receive CPR and Life Support?