Conversation is Often the Best Medicine

Senior couple meeting with agentImagine you’ve lived a rich, rewarding life. What would be most important to you in your dying days? Before reading further, think of at least one thing. If you answered avoiding suffering, being with family, having the touch of others, being mentally aware or not becoming a burden to others, you are of similar mind to those surveyed who had a terminal illness. The American healthcare system is focused on avoiding death. Twenty-five percent of all Medicare spending goes toward just 5 percent of patients in their final year of life. And in many cases end-of-life treatment occurs just because we avoid thinking and talking about our wishes. The benefits of having this discussion with loved ones and your physician are multifold. In a Coping with Cancer study, people who had a discussion with their doctor about their end-of-life preferences were more likely to die at peace and in control of their situation and spare their family anguish. And after their death, their family members...

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