In 1789, Ben Franklin said, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” But, we are MUCH more likely to discuss taxes with our family members than we are to discuss topics related to aging and end of life.
What do you talk about at your family dinners? If you are like most families, you probably avoid discussion of religion or politics. Unfortunately, you also probably steer clear of topics related to illness, aging, death, and dying.
Most families avoid these important conversations until a crisis occurs and these conversations are the most difficult and urgent. Having navigated these challenging conversations proactively and in times of crisis with many clients and my own family, I encourage you to have these conversations BEFORE they are necessary.
Below is a list of questions to get you started:
- Who do I want to help me manage my personal and household needs if I need help?
- Where do I want to live if I am no longer able to live independently in my home?
- Who will help me manage my financial affairs if I am not able to take care of them myself?
- Do I need a Financial Power of Attorney document to empower that person to help me?
- What are my healthcare preferences and wishes at the end of my life?
- Who will serve as my healthcare power of attorney if I am not able to make my own healthcare decisions?
- Who should have copies of my healthcare advance directives (living will and healthcare power of attorney)?
- Who will I ask to settle my estate after I am gone?
- Should I create formal estate planning documents?
It is a good idea to consult with your accountant, financial advisor, attorney, and physicians as you explore these questions. And, if you find the family conversations too challenging to navigate on your own, engage with a social worker, care manager, or family facilitator to help.
Sharing your preferences with your family will help them work together during challenging times. It will also help avoid unnecessary family conflict. Most importantly, it will allow you make sure your family knows what you want if you are not able to tell them yourself.
Written by: Darra Wray
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor with My Care Companions in Boise, Idaho, a company she founded to streamline and simplify the administrative side of care. You can learn more about My Care Companions and the My Data Diary+ family information management software solution at www.mycarecompanions.com