Whether you plan ahead or you’re thrown into a situation due to a sudden health crisis, end-of-life conversations are never easy. Couple that with trying to initiate these conversations with your aging parents. End-of-Life talks can be excruciatingly delicate and sometimes difficult. One must simultaneously tread lightly, yet boldly. Initiating End-Of-Life Conversations with Parents
Here are some basic guidelines to help prepare for these very important and personal discussions. Initiating End-Of-Life Conversations with Parents
Start now Initiating End-Of-Life Conversations with Parents
If you think it’s difficult to find the time today, it could be much harder. Imagine what it will be like trying to discuss end-of-life matters with your mom when she is gravely ill, incapacitated, or worse. Imagine what would happen if she were no longer here to have these conversations. In other words, don’t wait. Your parents are likely the healthiest they will be today.
Pick a comfortable spot, both mentally and physically
Do not bring your mother (or father) to the local Applebee’s to have this type of conversation. She does not want to discuss her personal matters while enjoying a meal in a restaurant. We suggest initiating this talk at your parents’ home, where they are most comfortable and it’s private.
Do your homeworkInitiating End-Of-Life Conversations with Parents
Before initiating this meeting, prepare a list of questions to help your parent. We suggest referring to one of the many checklists in The LastingMatters Organizer. You may think of the basics (ie. whether they prefer a traditional graveyard burial or they wish to be cremated). However, you may be overlooking dozens of other considerations that you haven’t thought about.
Be straight and be clear
Ease into the conversations by first letting your parent(s) know that you honestly don’t want to broach end-of-life subjects. However, it is best for everyone involved to be prepared in advance for any kind of future life-changing event – incapacity, dementia or death. Remind them that a feeling of accomplishment comes from the knowledge that their affairs are in order. With their wishes articulated, affirm that their intentions will be honored. Help your parent(s) understand that these conversations are tough for all involved, but these conversations are also the right thing to do. Initiating End-Of-Life Conversations with Parents
Give yourself, and your parents, a break
When discussing end-of-life matters with a loved one, often the biggest concern is how to make your parent(s) most comfortable in tackling these important decisions. This is not going to be a one time conversation and will take time for your parents to consider and organize their wishes. Take breaks from these discussions, but be sure to revisit topics. Continue to gather the information that will be needed, and wanted, when something happens. Easier said than done, right?
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but it will help you ignite a conversation.
While you, and/or your parents, may have your own checklists, referring to The LastingMatters Organizer as a comprehensive tool and resource will make the task and the conversations easier.
If for any reason your parents choose not to engage in these conversations with you, you can simply ask them to quietly fill out the Organizer. The information they can provide you will be a gift to you in the future – when it matters most.
Barbara Bates Sedoric, President and Founder of LastingMatters and Author of The LastingMatters Organizer, gained her comprehensive and sensitive understanding of the importance of end of life directives during her career in estates and trusts where she helped grieving family members compile this type of information. She comes from three generations of financial advisors. Barb is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Connecticut College and lives with her husband Tom and family in Rye, N.H. The LastingMatters Organizer can be purchased on www.LastingMatters.com.