Couple meeting with doctorAmy Berman is a nurse and a nationally recognized expert in senior care. She’s also a cancer patient with Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. In a recent Washington Post editorial, she explains that advance planning and end-of-life discussions have saved her life, even as she faces a terminal prognosis.

For Berman, that began with a decision to focus on palliative care. In other words, she and her doctors are more interested in making the rest of her life as enjoyable and painless as possible, as opposed to employing extreme treatment options that may or may not make any difference but that would almost certainly leave her feeling less than her best.

As Berman puts it, it’s about her quality of life, not quantity of days.

Palliative care isn’t always the right focus. It’s a personal choice and a highly diagnosis-dependent one. But Berman says you need to have an honest conversation with open-minded doctors (and get second opinions) to make sure you’re embarking on the best course.

But advance planning doesn’t stop in the doctor’s office. There’s a lot you can do on the legal side of things, too.

“High-quality advance-care planning discussions help people like me understand their options and make their wishes known,” Berman writes. “They can identify a surrogate to make decisions when they are unable to, and they can document their preferences in their medical records. These discussions — which should be ongoing, not just one-time — can revisit decisions in the face of new challenges…”

Wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and power of attorney are documents that all Americans should have in place, not just those living with end-stage cancer or other terminal diagnoses.

If you’d like help preparing for your own future, my Middlesex County estate planning attorney services can help. It’s never too early to talk about how you’ll handle those final chapters in life — in fact, it’s even better to have that conversation when “the end” is still a long way away! Give me a call today.

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