In his work with The Chat Project, Kahn advises groups and individuals on how to broach this tough topic, including when and where to have the discussion. "Choose an occasion where your family and loved ones are together—maybe a quiet moment at a holiday celebration or summer barbecue—so that you're able to communicate your wishes to everyone who might be involved when a decision must be made," he says. “If you think your family members will try to deter you from having the conversation, make sure you establish why you feel it's important to talk about this now. Communication is the key.”
Kahn suggests saying something like, “I want you to know these things because when you are making decisions for me later, I don’t want you to feel like you have to make them on your own. I want you to feel like you know what I want, because we talked about it."
Another helpful way to frame the conversation? Use relevant examples from pop culture as a jumping off point. "Maybe something comes up in a TV show where somebody has to make a medical decision for somebody else," Kahn says. "That might be an opportunity to turn to somebody and say, 'If I was in this position, this is what I would want.’"
Kahn's biggest tip? Have the conversation sooner rather than later. “The best time for these conversations is not at the time of crisis, because that’s when emotions run high,” he says. “People aren’t thinking as clearly, and there are other considerations going on.”
Visit TheChatProject.com for more resources on how to talk about your healthcare wishes with your loved ones.