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How can I talk about this topic with my family?
I think a good way to approach a discussion around end-of-life care is to, one, acknowledge the emotional bias that we have and the discomfort we feel, then try to get down to the logical matters of the progression of the disease.
Can a physician help?
Yes. I can have a physician tell me the progression of the disease and then I can have a conversation with my family about the normal progression. Also, what are the treatments that are available? How do I manage the symptoms?
How do I know what my parents would want?
Every person who is involved with a patient really needs to ask the question, "What did my mother want? What did my father want?" And work really hard to get their personal agenda and their fear out of the equation. Every person should have an advanced health care directive.