“When I think about what planning ahead means to me, it’s about ensuring that the most important people to you know what your wishes are. If you became unwell or sadly died, they would know what you want.
“There are three different aspects to this. The first is the immediate day-to-day, such as goals you want to achieve or things you want to see and do. The second is things that are important if you become less well and need care – illness will often take control away from us so it’s really important that people feel empowered. Finally, there are your wishes for after you die and that can be very helpful to those important to you as there will be no confusion about what you want.
“It’s a sad thing to talk about but when I sit with patients, I often feel that it’s empowering for people to think about their future and plan ahead. They can take that control back and once you start those conversations, it almost becomes a relief as you may have been holding it all in.
“I think we should all be thinking about planning ahead. It’s important to everyone and the more normal it becomes, the more difference it will make. If this is the first time you’ve thought about planning for your future, start thinking about what matters to you and when you feel comfortable, share this with your loved ones.
“Some people will find it much more straightforward to open up these conversations. For others, you might use a television programme or radio discussion as a starting point. You can have these conversations in stages – you don’t have to tell your loved ones everything in that one moment.
“If you want your wishes to be made more legal, you may want to go to a solicitor and make a Will. Certain things need to be arranged with a qualified legal professional, such as Power of Attorney, where a person is appointed to speak for you and arrange your care if you become too ill to do so.
“At the moment, you are the only person who knows what your wishes are and what’s important to you. I would encourage you to think about planning for the future so that, when the time comes, the people that are important to you know what you want and won’t have the distress or worry of not carrying out your wishes.”
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