How To Talk To Your Kids About End-Of-Life Care

end-of-life careNot everyone wants to think about what will happen as they age, especially when it comes to considering possibilities like dementia or a stroke leaving them incapable of making decisions about their own health. But the fact that those possibilities are so frightening is exactly why it’s important to talk to your children about end-of-life care now, before things take a turn for the worse.

Nevertheless, many people continue to put off having this extremely important conversation because it makes them so uncomfortable. Here are some ways you can ease the stress on both you and your children.

1) Plan ahead.

By doing your research ahead of time, you can plan for what comes next. Know what the average costs of end-of-life care are and put a plan in place for how you’re going to pay for it. Even if you don’t currently need an assisted living facility, doing your research and knowing where you want to go if it comes to that can make the transition that much easier on both you and your children.

Not only will this step make you feel better, it will make the idea more palatable for your children. Even those who don’t want to think about what’s coming will most likely find comfort in knowing there’s a plan in place and what that plan is. It will let them see it’s not so bad after all and will create a guideline for them to follow when it’s time to put the plan into action.

Be sure to write everything down and make sure everyone involved has a copy so there will be no second-guessing in the event of an emergency.

2) Talk about it early and often.

You don’t necessarily need to have one big Talk with your children about what they should do as you age. You can drop it into conversations throughout your lives together. As situations arise with friends and family, you can mention what you want done if you ever end up in a similar situation. Make it a two-way conversation by asking them what they think they would want if they found themselves in a vulnerable position. It can help introduce empathy into the discussion by forcing them to consider the situation from the other side, making them more likely to see things from your perspective, and by extension, respect your wishes.

3) Use media to help you broach the subject.

No one likes to hear the words, “We need to talk,” and trying to start a conversation that way can sometimes have the unintentional effect of making everyone defensive before the conversation has even begun. In order to avoid that, you can watch a show or movie together that addresses the issue. Talk about a book or show them an article you recently read on the topic. Use that as an icebreaker to start discussing the issue in general before moving on to what you specifically want to happen at the end of your life.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we do everything we can to answer the questions of our seniors in our community. If we do not have the answer, we will find someone that does.

CONTACT US TODAY for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Listening Hearts

Listening Hearts – It’s just one phrase in Stillwater’s mission statement, yet last week I found comfort in how profoundly true it was!

When I arrived Wednesday morning to visit my mom, I hadn’t been there in a few days. It’s cold and flu season and many healthcare sites have posted signs recommending one not visit if one is not well.  I didn’t want to take any chances visiting her (or her fellow residents) at the assisted living community since I hadn’t been feeling 100%.

At Mom’s apartment I found laundry, freshly done and ready to put away and her morning newspaper lay opened but unread. Her pendant was dangling from the towel rack. Grabbing it, I was met at the door by mom and the physical therapist. Her startled look was quickly replaced by a pleased smile.

As she rested in her chair, we conversed. I perused her mail, sifted through her read papers, assuring I gathered anything of importance. There were Christmas cards and letters she was happy to show me. some regular monthly notices. One required follow-up. I punched in the number provided only to be greeted by an automated menu that did not offer the option of speaking to a live person. With my frustration building, I put it aside, deciding to handle it from my house, where I kept my mom’s financial records.

Caregiving encompasses the individual medical and physical needs but also financial and property management. While the responsibilities can be divided among family members, there’s always overlap.

As Mom went to off to lunch, I’m heading out to run errands. The owner greets me with the usual “ How are you and your mom doing?” Feeling poorly, stressed, frustrated from the earlier attempt to handle business and overwhelmed with the holidays approaching, I began to speak. She calmly guides me to a chair and listens without interrupting as I pour out my concerns. She nods, gives an encouraging squeeze to my arm and tells me I’ll be in her thoughts and prayers. I thank her, and with a lighter heart, and take care of those errands.

Upon my return, I find mom participating in a group activity. Nearby is another Resident’s adult daughter whom I’ve come to know. With a little wave, I join her. After my inquiry, she starts telling me of her challenges. Listening hearts – I listen, acknowledge similar events and listen some more.  She apologizes for unburdening. I reassure her that I too had been experiencing a similar melt-down earlier in the day. She thanks me profusely.

I feel grateful to have given comfort after having received it earlier myself. We have built camaraderie of caring around the residents and their family members. It’s like a new neighborhood, where we may not always know their full names, but we greet each other, inquire about health and maintain an open attitude with listening hearts.

Vivian Helm