Family disagreements

Although mum cannot speak for herself, she does have an advance care directive; it’s just that family members are finding it hard to agree with following it through.


  • It is important to acknowledge the stress and grief that people may feel if a loved one is approaching the end of life. Family members may want to do everything possible to extend their loved one’s life, even if this is different from what their loved one has said in an advance care directive.
  • If family members are unsure about the advance care directive, they might consider if there is any reason to question it – e.g. has their mum clearly expressed different wishes since making the directive? Is the directive non-specific or unclear?
  • It may also help the family to discuss their questions and concerns with the medical or other staff looking after their mum.
  • While the family should be offered understanding and support, it is important that their needs do not override the wishes of the person who has made a clear and valid directive.
  • If there are serious disagreements that cannot be resolved through consultation and these are affecting decisions about a person’s care, it may be necessary to involve the State/Territory guardianship authority to resolve the situation.