When it comes to having those difficult and uncomfortable conversations about issues such as the end of life, living choices and finances, avoidance seems like a good option, until you need to know your loved one’s wishes. In most cases, procrastination is not a good thing and can have unfortunate consequences.
Open Lines of Communication Are Always Welcomed
Not all families have open lines of communication, so addressing the hard questions that come with aging often arise during a crisis. When families do talk, a family emergency is often the trigger. According to the research, 70% of family conversations about aging issues in the US and Canada are prompted by an event such as a health crisis. Shannon Hodge, franchise co-owner of Home Instead Senior Care, encourages her clients to make their wishes known, but not just verbally. “Starting the dialogue between senior adults and their family members is one thing, but finishing it is another. Nearly 100% of estate planning attorneys and lawyers surveyed in the US and Canada agree it is important to document wishes in writing. Conversations are a good first step, but don’t rely on anyone’s memory with the details of your loved one’s life that are so important,” said Shannon.
Experts suggest that you look for opportunities to have a discussion. Seize the chance to talk. Whether it’s a friend who is having problems or a particular dramatic moment in a television show, those can be great starting points to begin a conversation about “what if that was us?”
“To help families get going on discussing these important topics, Home Instead Senior Care network has reprised the 40-70 Rule ® campaign. The idea is that when you are 40 and a when a loved one is 70, you should have had the ‘talk’ about issues that so many families want to avoid. This enhanced program takes those conversations a step further, encouraging families to put their words into action before it’s too late,” commented Shannon.
Lack of Planning Can Spell Problems When Crises Strike
Finances, living preferences and driving are the three least talked-about end-of-life topics between adult children and their aging parents in both the US and Canada, according to research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care ® Network.
In the case of finances, talking about one’s personal financial situation can be awkward. Talking about death among family members can cause tensions, especially if it is thought that one person might be “after” the other person’s money. This is a topic which should be approached with respect and care to ensure the senior adult understands the conversation is for his or her benefit.
So, why is talking about the issues that come with growing older so hard for families?
Aging can be stigmatized. Whether it’s associated with decline and death, or simply because older ages are always an “unknown”….none of us, even older people, knows what it’s like to be even older! Most people approach aging with a mix of fear and uncertainty, so it’s not surprising that we are also somewhat afraid to talk about it.
“Beginning discussions early so that you have some ground rules if/when a crisis appears will help you cope. Often the biggest problems in a crisis situation are not with the immediate event, but the lack of planning. We encourage senior adults and their families to have open and honest communications to make sure their life continues to be fulfilling and lived in a manner they would want,” Shannon stated.
Home Instead Senior Care is a private pay, long- term insurance, VA benefit in-home care company and is located at 3410 Healy Drive, Suite 200, Winston-Salem, NC. For more information call 336-760-8001 or visit www.homeinstead.com/439.