Studies have shown that talking with aging loved ones about their wishes regarding end of life care before they are terminally ill can improve the quality of care they receive and reduce the number of unwanted treatments and procedures. However, most families aren’t having these conversations before the loved one receives a terminal diagnosis. So why aren’t families talking about estate planning and advanced health care directives?
This is obviously an uncomfortable conversation to have, so it’s understandable why we put it off. Some elderly family members might be very comfortable talking about death and the preparations that need to be made, but a lot of seniors are very uncomfortable talking about their mortality. To help get the conversation moving with the second group, here are a few helpful tips.
Set the Example
A lot of seniors put off making preparations because they feel healthy and think such conversations aren’t necessary right now. An easy way to get over this hurdle is to make preparations together. It’s never too early to start making end of life preparations, and taking some of these steps yourself can set a good example for your loved ones. Show them that you’ve already set up an estate plan and advanced healthcare directive for yourself so they don’t feel like this is only something sick people do.
Show Them How It Helps the Family
A common push back to these conversations is seniors not having a strong opinion of how events unfold once they take a turn for the worst. They just may not care what treatments they receive or how their estate is divided. Kindly informing them that these decisions will eventually need to be made by the family can help them understand that making end of life preparations doesn’t just help them, it helps the family.
This Doesn’t Mean Your Dying
One theme that will likely need to dominate your conversations is that setting up an estate plan and healthcare directives doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to die any time soon. Going through this process shouldn’t force them to accept any unpleasant realities they aren’t ready to deal with yet. Taking these steps is just a wise move at their stage of life, and it doesn’t have to have any other implications beyond that.