Talking about end of life wishes is never fun, and seldom easy. In light of the pandemic currently threatening the health and well-being of people, primarily older adults and those with pre-existing conditions, the time to talk about unpleasant possibilities is now.
Conversation reduces conflict
This can be a very sensitive topic to bring up, but talking to the older adults in your life sooner rather than later can help mitigate confusion, frustration and grief when a crisis arises. According to The Conversation Project National Survey in 2018 (conducted by Kelton Global), 92% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important. Yet only 32% have actually done so.
If you are the child, and are bringing these issues up with a parent, you may find that it is an emotionally conflicted subject. Role reversals (where a child begins to care for the parent) can cause stress and conflict as they are navigated. Don't be afraid to ask for help. An objective third-party such as an eldercare mediator (mediator trained in gerontology issues) can help tremendously.
First priority....legal issues
Getting legal documentation in place is the best protection you have to ensure that everyone involved in your loved ones' care understands what they want, and how it is to be achieved. Getting these documents completed is not just for older adults....anyone who wants to have some measure of control over how they live and are treated should be preparing these documents.
Here is a basic list of what you should have:
1. Last Will and Testament
2. Power of Attorney (Financial)
3. Power of Attorney (Medical)
4. Advanced Directives
Access to documentation
The best documentation in the world does no good if no one knows where it is. As these documents are created, let others know where they are kept, who has access to them, and if you used an attorney to prepare them - how to contact that attorney. If someone lives alone, keeping materials (or directions to those materials) on the refrigerator, with medications or next to the bed is a quick way for emergency responders to find the documentation they need.
Preparation for the inevitable doesn't hasten its' arrival. We will all (at some point) face death. Hopefully it is at the end of a very long and happy life. Helping those you love make sure their wishes are understood and respected is a gift that can save everyone additional grief.
(This link will provide access to courses designed to help talk to older adults about how they wish to live out the end of their lives. Please feel free to share it with those you think it can help. The link is valid until May 4, 2020.)