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Starting Healthcare Conversations

January 09, 2023
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Starting Healthcare Conversations

Managing your money is just one part of aging well—and IntentGen Financial Partners know that well-being can only be defined holistically. That’s why, for today, we’ve decided to look at a topic that falls outside the world of financial management: starting conversations about healthcare with your providers and your loved ones. Having thoughtful, productive conversations around your needs and desires is a crucial component of intentional living, and we’ve got a toolkit that can help you get started.

  1. Make a List of the Things That Matter

You might think of ‘health’ as a baseline standard where you simply feel “OK”, but the truth is that health is a story about where we are now and where we’d like to be in the future. Do you intend to spend your retirement hiking, biking, or playing with grandkids? Setting these intentions with your family and/or your doctor can help you make a plan to stay on track.

Finish these sentences if you’re not sure where to start:

  1. On a perfect day, I prefer to spend my time…
  2. When I need support, I turn to…
  3. I feel most fulfilled when my life is full of…

Lastly, try to combine these answers into a succinct “What Matters” statement that you can bring to your loved one or your healthcare provider. When the people in your life understand your goals and your current support system, they can help you build a brighter future.

2. Decide How You Want Your Talk to Go

With any goal, getting the end result you want is all about breaking down the process into simple, manageable steps. In healthcare conversations, you need to know exactly what points you’d like to cover—or at least have an idea of where to begin. A provider won’t necessarily know what information you’d like to receive, and family members may not have practice with these sorts of conversations. In either case, having clear aims in mind can prevent you from getting stuck in a surface-level conversation.

For each of these statements, decide the extent to which you agree:

  1. I want to know all of the details about my condition and treatment.
  2. I trust my healthcare provider to make decisions in my best interest.
  3. I worry that I won’t receive the care that I need.
  4. In the event that I become seriously ill, I always want to know how long I have left.
  5. Treatments that negatively impact my quality of life are worth trying if they help me live longer.
  6. I want others to follow all of my instructions exactly in the event that I can no longer speak for myself, even if it causes them some discomfort.
  7. I want those close to me to know as much about my health as possible.
  8. I would prefer to die in the company of others, rather than in privacy.
  9. I would rather spend my last days at home, rather than in an institution.

Before you start the conversation, think deeply about each of these statements and qualify them, if necessary. For example, you might want those close to you to know some details about your health, but have other details be kept between you and your doctor.

Remember: these questions should help you get started, but they shouldn’t be seen as comprehensive. No two people have precisely the same needs, so it’s worth it to take your time and think through every angle.

3. Tips for a Better Conversation

Practice and preparation don’t make “perfect”—but they do make “better”. Keep these points in mind before you attempt to start a conversation with family members or healthcare providers:

  1. Nothing is set in stone, and healthcare conversations can and should continue throughout the rest of your life.
  2. Some people may resist having these conversations, but you should keep trying.
  3. You don’t have to cover everything in a single conversation, and it may be more productive to break healthcare conversations down into manageable chunks.
  4. You don’t have to agree with everything that the other person has to say, but listening to their opinions demonstrates mutual trust and respect—the foundation of exceptional care.

Age Well with IntentGen Financial Partners

At IntentGen Financial Partners, helping others live more intentionally is our most important goal. Whether you’re managing your beneficiaries, saving for the future, or setting up investments that align with your values, you can count on us to point you in the right direction. Learn more about our Core Values and contact us with any questions on your mind.