Have The Conversation.
We can’t control everything about our death. But if we communicate effectively, we make it more likely that our wishes for the end of life will be known and respected. Simply completing an advance directive does not ensure it will be respected. Recent studies indicate the single most powerful thing a person can do to improve the chance for gentle dying is --- simply and courageously --- to talk about it.
Effective communication with those who will be called upon to make decisions on our behalf is key to the likelihood that our wishes are carried out. Compassion & Choices offers a Good to Go Toolkit and Good To Go Resource Guide that help you define your priorities, understand who you need to talk with and come up with ideas on how to get the conversation rolling. We've also provided state-specific advance directives free of charge, available for downloading.
It is never too early to get started.
Voluntary Stopping of Eating & Drinking (VSED)
VSED is not starvation and, with palliative support, is not painful. VSED is a legally recognized option for mentally competent adults who wish to end their suffering. Numerous studies demonstrate that, when coordinated with hospice care, the process is peaceful and the patient does not suffer from hunger or thirst. A growing number of individuals are exploring this option. VSED permits dying to proceed naturally.
This choice involves consciously refusing all food and fluids for a gentle, natural passing. Consciousness is lost in as little as two or three days, and death typically occurs within one to three weeks, depending on the individual’s hydration and disease state. Success with VSED requires determination, accurate information, and around-the-clock support from family or other caregivers. Contact our End-of-Life Consultation program at 1.800.247.7421 for more information.
Why is an advance directive important?
Advance directives protect your right to make choices that affect your life. They are a way of letting your loved ones and your physicians know your wishes. Without an advance directive, others will be required make decisions for you which may or may not be what you want.