Tips for talking about end of life

Dementia and end-of-life care

Tips for talking about end of life

Talking about end of life can be difficult for everyone but you may even find some relief in having the subject out in the open. Talking about it early on can help you face your worries together.

You don’t have to talk about everything at once and there is no right or wrong way to approach this subject. Here are some suggestions that might help:

  • Choose a time and place where you both feel safe and comfortable.
  • Feel free to acknowledge the difficulty of talking about end of life. Using humour, when appropriate, may relieve pressure.
  • If the other person refuses to talk or changes the subject, try saying “That is okay, we don’t have to talk about it right now but it is something I would like to talk about soon. I want to be sure I know your wishes so I can act on them when the time comes.”
  • It is okay to express your emotions, including your sadness. Talking about a person’s end of life can be upsetting.
  • If you find the discussion overwhelming, suggest continuing the conversation at another time. You do not have to talk about everything all at once.
  • This is a conversation about you and the person you support, so encourage the person with dementia to be involved in it as much as they are able.

Next section: Appointing substitute decision-maker(s)