From financial and legal matters to healthcare and living arrangements, caregivers have many complex factors to consider when it comes to helping seniors transition through the later chapters of life.
Luckily these decisions don't have to be made alone. In fact, older adults can take a leading role in the planning process....as long as caregivers don't wait until it's too late to begin the conversation.
Planning ahead not only ensures optimal outcomes when it comes to your aging loved one's long-term care, but also provides peace of mind during uncertain times.
While initiating a conversation with your parents regarding their end of life wishes may seem uncomfortable or awkward, it’s an essential part of ensuring that their wishes are met. One simple way to start the discussion is to use your own end-of-life planning as a springboard into a conversation about your loved ones' plans and preferences. While talking about mortality can be a sensitive subject, be sure to reiterate that your ultimate goal is to honor and respect the wishes of your loved one.
Choose a location where he/she feels most comfortable, and make sure all close family members are available to participate, if possible. Throughout the planning process, be as specific as possible. The more comprehensively you acknowledge and address the decisions which will need to be made -- including everything from living arrangements to funeral plans -- the more resolution you will have when the time comes for action.
Write It Down
Documenting this conversation is just as important as having it. Not all family members and members of the healthcare team will be present when these important conversations occur -- although, ideally, all major stakeholders will be involved. Maintaining a written record can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. This documentation can later be shared with the funeral home.
Take Action Now
The old expression, “Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?” is never more applicable than when it comes to end of life planning. If you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity to have the discussion, it’s never going to arrive. Failure to begin the process early not only decreases the possibility that your parent will be able to be a participant in making plans, but also increases the odds that some wishes may not be met.
While no one wants to think about a time when they may be unable to care for themselves, the fact is that aging is a very real part of life. Many older seniors feel threatened by the loss of independence and are fearful about what lies ahead. By meeting the topic head-on with an informed and open discussion, you can help your aging loved one regain a critical sense of control.
While having a conversation about aging and end-of-life care can be difficult, it is important to plan before a crisis hits.
Waiting until your aging loved one is already in cognitive decline can prevent you from determining his/her true wishes.
Documenting your aging loved one’s wishes helps ensure that they are met when the time comes for action.
Ultimately, the planning process benefits the entire family.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.