There are a few age related topics that people seem to avoid at all costs with those they love. Health, Financial Planning, Advanced Care Planning and End of Life issues are topics few want to raise and even fewer want to talk about. Yet for older adults, these are important to discuss with your family while you are still healthy and can easily clarify what you want when the time comes. I have done many lectures on planning ahead, for both seniors and children of seniors. The common theme between both groups is the fear of raising what are often taboo subjects. It seems that both parties are afraid of a negative reaction from the other one. I do wonder though, if its a fear of a reaction or if neither knows how to start a conversation like this.
Here is the reality though - not talking about it doesn't make the worries go away - and doesn't make a difficult situation any better. For regular readers of our blog, you will know that I am a strong believer in raising issues like future planning well before it's necessary. It gives one time to discuss and understand possible scenarios and options and is far better than having to make a decision in a crisis when options become very limited. It gives the control of one's destiny to the elder person and allows everyone to cope better if the time comes when decisions have to be made.
So, how do you raise your concerns and start a conversation?
We all know of someone who ended up in a hosptial in a crisis situation with their family scrambling to make decisions. The older we are, the more people we know in this situation. And it gets us thinking. What if that were me? And maybe, that is a good place to start. But perhaps, if you are truly concerned about a negative reaction, start slowly. Don't inundate the other person with a million questions and scenarios. Test the waters first but keep in mind that there are many issues to discuss and priorities include the exisistence of a will and power of attorney, financial planning, care planning and what they want when they are close to the end of life. I'm certain with the recent news coverage and conversations about physician-assisted death, many will be willing to weigh in on their opinion for themselves and others on this topic. And this too may provide an entry into the whole topic of care planning itself.