The Gift of Timely Conversations:
How to discuss end of life care

Grandfather and Granddaughter When is the right time to make end of life decisions? It always seems like it’s too early to have these conversations, and yet so many people wind up waiting until it’s too late to start discussing these plans. Whether you’re making the decisions for yourself, or you’re an adult child looking for advice on discussing EOL issues with your parent, browse our end of life conversation starters below:

Good End of Life Conversation Starters >> 

 When you talk about end-of-life wishes with your loved ones, you’re truly giving them a gift — a gift of understanding that will bring them peace in years to come.


How to Make End of life decisions

Samaritan recommends a three-part approach to the end of life care discussion: 
  • THINK about your wishes.
  • TALK about your choices with your family and healthcare providers.
  • ACT by writing it down and sharing copies with those who need to know.
Have this conversation now at the kitchen table, not later in the ICU. 

The Institute of Medicine recommends these milestones as good "triggers" for meaningful discussions:

  • At family gatherings - birthdays, holidays, funerals
  • At key milestones, such as when you get your driver’s license, graduate college, change jobs
  • When you have a child 
  • When you plan to retire
  • When you start military training or are deployed 
  • During well visits with your primary care provider 
  • When you’re diagnosed with with a chronic, life-limiting illness | Get help >>
  • As your health worsens 
  • When you enter your final year of expected life |  Get help >>
Make sure you complete your advance directive.
  • Use our resources for help in writing down your wishes.
  • Or fill out a Five Wishes booklet.
  • Consult with a living will or elder law attorney.



According to a national survey by The Conversation Project in 2013, more than 90% of people think it’s important to talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Yet, less than 30% of people have discussed it.


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