Elder care and End-of-Life Decisions


The middle of a crisis is the worst time to discuss end-of-life decisions with your parent.  When my mother was dying, I had some peace of mind elder care, elder law attorneybecause I knew what type of elder care my mother wanted.

4 Key elements of a successful discussion about end-of-life issues

1.     Plenty of time to talk (weeks and months)

2.     Willingness to face strong emotions

3.     Understand the elder care support your parent wants

4.     Help your parent take action

Plenty of time to talk

It's a rare family who can get elder care decisions communicated in one or two discussions.  Planning a series of conversations makes more sense.

Be willing to face strong emotions

Expect that both of you will get emotional.  Don't let this stop you from getting the care information you need.  When things get too intense you can stop and revisit the subject later.

Understand the elder care support your parent really wants

When your parent talks frankly about their elder care and end-of-life issues, it's a great gift to you.  Encourage your parent to talk in specifics as much as possible.  If your parent says "I don't want extreme measures".  What are extreme measures from your parent's perspective?

Help your parent take action

The next step after a successful discussion is taking action.  Consider hiring an elder law attorney to create estate planning documents like powers of attorney for health care and finance. Make sure everyone in the family is aware of your parent's elder care wishes.

If your parent won't talk about elder care and end-of-life issue

  1. Bring up examples of how other people handle elder care and end-of-life issues to raise the topic in an indirect way.
  2. Ask your parent to help you now as a way of demonstrating their love for you.
  3. Ask a person who is a positive influence on your parent to discuss end-of-life decision making with your parent.

Have you clarified your parent's elder care and end-of-life wishes?  How did you bring up the topic?  If you met with resistance, how did you get your parent to talk?

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--Janice Wallace