Hard Choices for Loving People - Book Review

June 28, 2024
3 min
Dr. Rick Aizpuru, VP Clinical Solutions

Reverend Hank Dunn is an ordained healthcare chaplain, bestselling author, and speaker. In his sixth edition, Hard Choices for Loving People, he provides patients and families an easy to read, understand, and incredibly helpful guide for those patients and families facing a serious illness. Ira Byock, MD says of the book, “this slender book is packed with practical wisdom for people facing life’s most difficult decisions. It is clear and concise, yet sensitive to the emotional turmoil of the people who hold it in their hands.” I would highly recommend reading the entire book but for today’s post, I’ve summarized and highlighted the main points. 

In the first chapter of the book, Reverend Dunn addresses the four most common decisions that face patients: should resuscitation be attempted, should artificial nutrition and hydration be used, should a patient be transferred from their place of residence to a hospital, and is it time to shift the treatment goal from cure to hospice or comfort measures only? Each chapter subsequently addresses important questions that we all will face at some point in our journey.

Chapter 1 addresses the use of CPR in various settings. Chapter 2 discusses another challenge and question that faces patients and families; the use of artificial nutrition and hydration. Chapter 3 discusses the differences between palliative care and hospice care. Chapter 4 discusses treatments to consider and practical guideposts to use in medical decision-making as a patient and family member. Chapter 5 is a beautiful chapter which addresses the emotional and spiritual issues related to serious illness as well as end of life.

The book is an incredibly concise and helpful publication for all to read. After reading this book, even individuals with limited medical knowledge will have a much better understanding of the types of decisions that are made when facing serious illness, and end of life. It is a great introduction for everyone to begin to grasp the importance of prior planning in case of loss of decision making capacity. I highly recommend this book to be read by my patients as well as their families.

Answering the four questions that Hank Dunn poses at the beginning of the book are pivotal in one’s decision tree. After choosing the person to be your “surrogate or trusted medical decision maker or power of attorney for healthcare” addressing topics discussed in this concise handbook are essential.”

Those reading the book will be in a much more informed position to complete their healthcare directives. Hard Choices for Loving People, can be purchased online at Quality of Life Publishing or by calling the toll-free number 877-513-0099.

Completing our power of attorney for healthcare and healthcare directives is one of the important freedoms we have as Americans. Personal autonomy in making our own medical decisions is a basic human right which we as Americans cherish. 

Happy Fourth of July to everyone from the Thanacare team.

If you are interested in starting a conversation about what matters most when it comes to your care wishes, schedule with Thanacare today.