It’s easy to talk with loved ones about happy events, but conversations about your end of life wishes are more important than you might think. Consider the arguments and hurt feelings that could be avoided, if your loved ones know exactly what you want, and why.
While most of our lives pass with only minor incidents, as we age the likelihood of being struck by a serious illness or having an accident increases. This means that our loved ones may face the difficult decisions that come with a parent’s passing. Making sure that your family members know what your end-of-life preferences are and discussing your wishes, along with putting an estate plan into place, can ease everyone’s mind and make a difficult situation a little less stressful.
The website seniorhomes.com recently posted an article, “10 Steps to Communicate Your End-of-Life Wishes.” According to the article, the most important question when it comes to communicating end-of-life wishes might be, “how to do it?” Luckily there are actions you can take to make the process easier for you and your family. Get going now, before it’s too late … and make it a priority.
Planning. There’s no better time than the present to let your family know about your final wishes. Start by drawing up a living will that states your treatment and care preferences in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. You should also sign a durable power of attorney that appoints one or more family members or trusted friends to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Get that paperwork started today.
Clarity. It’s not pleasant to dwell on becoming too ill to make healthcare and other important decisions, but a critical injury or debilitating illness can occur at any time. As a result, it’s vital to be clear about your wishes as soon as possible—just in case.
Opportunity. Finding the appropriate time to discuss end-of-life issues can be tough, but there are certain events may give you the opportunity to do so. Possible occasions include those related to milestones like the birth of a child, marriage, death or serious illness of a loved one, retirement, an anniversary, during holiday gatherings, or when you create your will or other estate planning. Hopefully, you will have this conversation before an injury or a major illness that requires you or another family member to move out of the home and into a long-term care setting.
Discussions. Have these end-of-life conversations early to make certain that everyone understands your wishes. Your preferences may also change over time and necessitate future discussions on the subject.
Permission. Ask your loved ones for permission before launching into the topic. This will reassure them that you respect and honor their wishes.
Purpose. Your conversations with family need to include two important goals: (i) to be sure your financial and healthcare wishes are expressed and honored; and (ii) to give them the information and confidence they need to make future decisions.
Setting. Have the talk in a quiet and comfortable setting, such as a private spot without distractions. Be mindful of your state of mind and that of other family members.
Listening. Whatever your role in discussing end-of-life wishes, it’s important to listen carefully. Be certain that you hear and understand what your loved ones are saying.
Who participates in this conversation? Be aware that a loved one may want to talk about end-of-life wishes in private.
Pace. If you’re listening to a loved one express their wishes, led them set the pace and don’t argue about their wishes. They may not be your wishes, and they may not make sense to you, but these are their choices.
A respectful and thoughtful mindset will be needed, both by the person who is conveying their end-of-life wishes and family members. If for some reason, the conversation is not going well, you may find that an estate planning attorney can provide further pointers on how to help move the discussion along.
Reference: seniorhomes.com (December 22, 2016) “10 Steps to Communicate Your End-of-Life Wishes”