Planning for your aging loved ones' future needs can be complex. However, once you have a clear plan, you can shift your focus to what really matters: spending quality time together. It's important to understand your loved one’s wishes, preferences, and arrangements for the future - this includes healthcare, legal, and financial decisions.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to start the process of planning for the future:
People react to talking about end of life decisions in different ways. When you ask for permission to begin a conversation, you show them that you will respect their wishes and give them space to process all their mixed emotions. For example: “I really care about you and it worries me that I don’t know the kind of care you would like if you ever got really sick. Can we talk about that?”
Start Conversations Early.
This will allow everyone to contribute and express their wishes and priorities. Make it a natural and inter-generational conversation where both of you can share your wishes with each other. For instance: “personally, I would like to be cared for at home as opposed to a hospital. What’s important to you?”
Support Your Loved One.
Work together in collecting and completing necessary documents together. These can include healthcare power of attorney, POLST (Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) which is an updated DNR form, and Five Wishes. Make appointments with your family physician, financial advisor, and lawyer to understand all options.
Keep Documents in One Place.
Tell a trusted family member or friend the location accompanied by any instructions. Consider going paperless and scan documents into a secure online system such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
Keep in mind that directives are fluid documents and update them as situations change.
Think and Revisit.
Return to these documents and conversations when needed. It is normal to encounter resistance or uncertainty the first time you try to talk about this topic. Plan to try again another time.
If you need help laying out a plan and educating yourself before making these big decisions, Homethrive's Care Guides can help. Not only are they trained to help our members manage advanced directives but they can also help families navigate any complex dynamics.