The Mesothelioma Center's October Support Group: Just In Case Conversations


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When you or a loved one is sick, it is sometimes necessary to discuss topics that we would normally shy away from. These topics can include making treatment decisions, quality of life and end-of-life wishes. Understandably, these issues can be challenging to bring up and discuss, but when patients and family members are able to have these conversations they report a sense of relief and are able to let go of worrying about what to do in the future. We will discuss how to address these topics with loved ones and what are some of the resources to help make your wishes known.

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The Mesothelioma Center's October Support Group: Just In Case Conversations

  1. 1. Difficult Conversations: How to talk to your loved ones about your health Dana Nolan MS, LMHC, NCC Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  2. 2. Talking about… Conversations to have when you are well: • Living Will • Last Will and Testament • Organ Donation/anatomical donation Conversations when you are ill: • Diagnosis of Life Threatening Illness • Prognosis • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) (800) 615-2270
  3. 3. Why can conversations about our health be difficult  Denial of our mortality  Hard to imagine ourselves or our loved ones sick  Societal pressure to only think about positive outcomes (800) 615-2270
  4. 4. Why are these conversations necessary?  Elephant in the room  YOUR wishes will be carried out  Your family members KNOW your thoughts/feelings and don’t have to guess  Your family has the knowledge to plan their lives and get support if needed  No one has ever died from hearing the news that a loved one has a potentially life threatening illness (800) 615-2270
  5. 5. What are Advance Directives?  Conversations about your Advance Directives are best had when you are well.  If Terry Schiavo had completed an advance directive in writing, she would have had her wishes known and carried out.  Living Will - a legal statement about what kind of medical care you want or don’t want if you become unable to make your own decisions. • Difference between a living will and DNR • You do not need an attorney to complete a living will (800) 615-2270
  6. 6. Advance Directives (con’t)  Health Care Surrogate legal document naming another person as your representative to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself. • You do not need an attorney to help you with this process (800) 615-2270
  7. 7. What if you don’t have a Health Care Surrogate?  Next of kin: • Legal Guardian, Spouse, Adult Children of patient, Parents of patient, oldest sibling/majority of siblings, close relatives involved in care, close friends involved in care. (800) 615-2270
  8. 8. Difference between Power of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogate Designation  Durable power of attorney allows for much broader powers than a Healthcare Surrogate Designation  No limitations on the decision making.  Strongly recommended that an attorney assist with this process (800) 615-2270
  9. 9. What a Health Care Surrogate can provide consent for: Decide on the patient’s level of care when the patient cannot Consult with caregivers and give informed consent for treatment Have access to medical records and authorize release of information as needed Apply for benefits & avoid cost of an attorney (800) 615-2270
  10. 10. What a Health Care Surrogate cannot provide consent for:  Abortion, Sterilization, Electroconvulsive therapy, Psychosurgery, Experimental treatments or therapies, Voluntary admission to a mental health facility (800) 615-2270
  11. 11. Advance Directives (con’t)  Anatomical Donation Legal document that indicates your wish to donate, at death, all or part of your body. (800) 615-2270
  12. 12. Talking about your illness  Adjusting to news of your own serious diagnosis  Telling others can be challenging • Emotions of co-workers, parents, friends, children, siblings, neighbors (800) 615-2270
  13. 13. Talking about your illness (con’t)  What to tell and when? • Cost/benefit analysis  Children/grandchildren • To tell or not to tell  Boss/co-workers (800) 615-2270
  14. 14. Prognosis  Asking your physician “How long do I have?” is a tough question • Our physicians don’t give their opinion on prognosis unless you ask (800) 615-2270
  15. 15. Prognosis (con’t)  Disclosing a limited prognosis to loved ones  Deciding to decline further curative treatment….Is this giving up?  End of Life discussions…Is talking about what kind of funeral/burial you want being pessimistic? (800) 615-2270
  16. 16. Do Not Resuscitate Order  What is this and who can enact one?  Discussion with your treating physician (800) 615-2270
  17. 17. Conclusion  Gone are the days when Cancer was whispered about.  We know that having difficult conversations reduce anxiety about the unknown for patients and family  Lots of resources to help with having those conversations (800) 615-2270
  18. 18. Contact Information 1-800-615-2270 (800) 615-2270