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Plan and Prepare for Excellent End-of-Life Care

Plan and prepare for excellent end-of-life care with the following checklist.

If you knew you only had a short time to live, what would you want to accomplish? To whom would you express gratitude? From whom would you ask forgiveness? Is there someone you want to forgive? Who needs to hear “I love you?” No one can predict the moment of death, so consider answering these questions and taking care of unfinished business today.

  • Complete your advance directive and give copies to our healthcare agent, alternative agents, loved ones, doctor, and lawyer.
  • Take a copy of your advance directive with you whenever you are admitted to a healthcare facility, and check with your doctor to make sure it is included in your medical record.
  • Review your advance directives on an annual basis and after a major life event such as marriage, divorce, serious illness, or death in the family.
  • Initiate conversations about your end-of-life wishes with your healthcare agent, alternate agents, loved ones, doctor and lawyer.
  • When visiting the doctor, take someone with you. Write questions in advance and write down and/or record answers.
  • If you are seriously ill, ask the doctor to explain your diagnosis, treatment options (including benefits and burdens), and expected outcomes. Make sure the doctor understands your goals for care. If you meet resistance, seek a second opinion.
  • If you are at home or in a healthcare facility, ask for a palliative care or hospice consultation to help with pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, and assistance navigating the healthcare system.
  • If you have questions about whether to have a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR), ask to consult with a member of the palliative or hospice team. If you have a DNR and live at home, display it in a prominent place, such as on the front of your refrigerator, for easy access.
  • If you have any other questions about end-of-life care, call hospice for a free consultation.
  • To ease the burden on your loved ones, plan funeral arrangements.
  • If the above tasks seem overwhelming, seek the help of a trusted friend or counselor.


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