For adult children, whether with or without their own little ones to think about, who are caring for their aging or elderly parents, discussing end-of-life matters could be a challenging prospect. However, these daunting discussions could result in less stress and improved quality of life during the difficult times ahead.
Here are some tips to have end-of-life discussions and ensure that they’re worthwhile and valuable for those involved.
Refrain from Delaying “The Talk”
Conversations regarding end-of-life matters are best made over time, with plenty of opportunities and room to explore the different emotions and options about the subject. Families that delay talking about such difficult issues often make poor decisions in a crisis without actually knowing their loved ones’ exact preferences.
On the other hand, discussing things in advance gives everyone that chance to process their emotions and the fact that illness and death are natural parts of our lives. Therefore, these must be planned, whenever possible, just as we plan for college, starting a family, retirement, and other crucial life events.
Pick the Perfect Place and Time
Some experts advise discussing end-of-life decisions during special events like birthday or holiday gatherings when most of the relevant family members will be present. Just make sure that your loved one doesn’t feel ambushed. Otherwise, prepare for major pushback.
If you feel that these gatherings will be too overwhelming for your aging parent, you can consider taking a drive or quiet lunch or dinner.
If your aging mom or dad recently had a medical checkup, this could be an ideal time to start the conversation.
Research Your Options
Do your homework first about the different end-of-life care options, including palliative care and hospice care. Check out which programs and facilities are available near your place. It would help if you then listed down specific questions you and your parent should consider ensuring that everything is organized and you don’t leave out crucial issues.
Take Notes of the Conversation
Consider making a list of your parent’s wishes and then read them together to ensure that they’re accurate. You will find these notes come in handy when you have to talk about your parent’s wishes with others. It’s also a good idea for your parent to make advance directives that should be shared with your parent’s clergy, doctors, lawyers, and other family members.
Create Your Own Advance Directives
By creating a living will, you will gain personal experience of the challenges your parents will face when thinking about their end-of-life preferences. The knowledge from this experience will help you understand how your parents would feel when deciding on difficult end-of-life matters and help prepare you for the process.
Discussing end-of-life issues is understandably difficult for a lot of people because it involves several factors. However, waiting until your aging parent is very ill or dying might make it harder for you to make good and appropriate decisions. Ultimately, everyone would benefit from your initiative to discuss end-of-life matters with your aging parents. This way, you can always be prepared when things change.