What is a meaningful quality of life? How should this inform a living will? What is a living will? What are the costs of long term care? How do we focus on adding life to our years?In this unscripted TEDx talk at Stanford University, my father and I discuss how difficult it is for families to plan for end of life issues with aging parents.

Simply getting to square one — knowing where to start and how to talk about these subjects — is not obvious or common knowledge.

As I say in our conversation, as families raise critical health care questions, our medical system is not very helpful either:

In medicine these days, we [doctors] are like the pilot of a 747 who’s happy to fly the plane until there’s engine trouble. When there’s engine trouble and it looks like things are really going bad, we come out to the passenger and say, “Well it’s your life at stake here, and it’s your body too, what do you think I should do?”

[End with a pointed question leading to action — further reading, something to download.]

Posted by Jennifer Brokaw

Dr. Jennifer Brokaw worked for fourteen years as a board-certified emergency physician before becoming a private consultant, patient advocate, writer, and speaker on the topics of end-of-life planning, medical decision-making and medical advocacy.

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