The task of thinking about and setting goals is new for most people. This may be the first time that anyone has asked them about their goals. They may need some suggestions and some time to consider them. Terms like “intubation”, “resuscitation”, or even “palliation” may be poorly understood and may not add much to the discussion.
For example, you may say:
- “People facing only weeks to live often aim for quality of life and noninvasive interventions only.”
- “People close to death often ask for care that secures comfort and does not aim to prolong life”
- “In the last stage of life you (or your husband) may choose to be at home with as much support as possible instead of in hospital where the emphasis is on interventions and treatment”
- Watch the videos below for an example.
Sometimes patients and families are not ready for these suggestions. It is still valuable to start the discussion. Goals change over time.
Other approaches to discussing goals with a patient are to ask about the importance of function or trade-offs. Examples include:
- “What abilities are so critical to you in your life that you can’t imaging living without them?”
- “If you become more unwell, how much are you willing to go through for the possibility of gaining more time?”