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Have you had "the talk" about advance care planning?

Few of us plan for this important event.

Most of us plan for college, weddings and retirement. But there’s one important event that few us plan for: the end of life.

“The time to talk about end-of-life care is before a serious illness or crisis happens,” said Joshua Jacobs, MD, Optum. 

“Prepare in advance. Give yourself peace of mind knowing what your loved ones want. And, on the flip side, you can rest easier knowing you've made your wishes known if you can no longer speak for yourself.”

Talking about end-of-life isn’t easy, no matter what side of the table you’re on. But we have some tips to help you get started.

Prepare for your talk

  • Do your homework. Learn about end-of-life care offered in your community.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to talk that’s free from distractions.
  • Remember, this is just the beginning of the conversation. Your needs and wishes may change over time.
  • Think about how you want to be cared for. What could help comfort you? Where would you want to spend your final days? What kind of pain control do you want? Are emotional and spiritual support important?

Have the talk: Share your end-of-life wishes 

  • Talking about this topic can be difficult. Try starting with, “I want to talk about how I’d like to be cared for if I am sick or injured. Can we do that now?”
  • Share your thoughts, beliefs and values with your loved ones. This will help them make medical choices that best fit your wishes.
  • Choose someone who can speak for you if you become too sick to speak for yourself. It could be a family member, friend, your lawyer or someone who’s close to you. You might want to choose a backup, too. Make sure both are willing to take on this important job.

Once you've talked, complete your advance care planning worksheet. Share it with your doctor and loved ones. This way, they won’t be surprised by your wishes if there is an emergency.

Ask loved ones to share their wishes

  • Ask for their OK to talk about end-of-life care. This shows that you will respect their wishes. Here's an example: “If you ever got sick, I would be afraid of not knowing the kind of care you would like. Could we talk about this now?”
  • Be a good listener. Remember that this is a conversation, not a debate. Show empathy and respect. Accept their choices, even if you don’t agree with them."

Make your advanced care plan today. Start planning now to get the care you want later.

Get started


  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • Optum
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.