(Good Things Utah) “It’s an awkward conversation to have,” says Dr. Stevenson with Optum Care when asked about end-of-life planning. “We just tend to avoid things like end-of-life decisions.”

According to the Conversation Project, more than 90% of people think it’s important to have conversations about end-of-life care with their loved ones, yet less than 30% have done so. Planning for major injuries or sudden illness may feel awkward, but timely conversations with family members can ensure your care preferences are honored and that your caregivers don’t have to guess what you might want.

Why is it important to outline the end-of-life wishes and when should I do it?

Imagine you are in an accident, or a sudden illness leaves you unable to speak for yourself. Your loved one or caregiver may be faced with a difficult decision about whether to continue life-saving measures. How does that person know what to do?

Many people assume this is just for sick or elderly people…but advance care planning is for everyone. Car accidents, crises, and sudden illnesses can happen to anyone at any time.

What are the important steps to ensure your future care preferences are known?

It’s called the three D’s …. Discuss, Decide, and Document.

How do I get started?

It’s simpler than you think to get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can change it at any time. Here are a few tips:

TIP #1

Choose an advocate. This should be someone who knows you well, is calm in a crisis, understands your preferences, is not afraid to ask questions of care providers, and will advocate on your behalf. An advocate can be a close relative or friend but should be someone you trust to follow your wishes. Who might your advocate be?

TIP #2

Talk with your advocate and doctor about your future care preferences. Let your advocate and doctors know what’s most important to you in life. What are the activities and abilities that make life most worth living for you? What are the things that give you comfort when you’re sick? When, if ever, should your advocate decide that it’s time to “let go”? And who else should they include in that decision?

TIP #3

Write it down. Formalize your decisions by putting them in writing. You can visit www.optumcare.com/nhdd to get more information as well as download an interactive worksheet that allows you to fill in the blanks for your advance care planning.

TIP #4

Give copies of your plan to your advocate, family members, and doctors. Make sure they are aware of your plan and take some time to go over the document with them. Update and review the plan whenever your situation or preferences change and have the document placed in your medical records.

Do I need a lawyer for this?

No. Any person can complete an advance directive and conversations can happen at whatever time and place you’re comfortable.

What if I change my mind?

Your plan is flexible and can change at any time. Revisit your plan with any life event. Remember that your plan only takes effect if you can’t speak for yourself. Until then, you’ll make all your decisions for yourself.

To read more information and advice on end-of-life planning from Optum Care, visit them online at OptumCare.com.

**This segment contains sponsored content