Talking About End-of-Life Decisions with Seniors

By Pete Lane, 8:00 am on

Talking about end-of-life care is essential for ensuring your loved one’s preferences are carried out should he or she become incapacitated and unable to speak for his or herself. Although this conversation is one of the most important you can have with your loved one, it is normal to feel apprehensive about bringing up a topic that could be upsetting. Fortunately, older adults are often relieved to have their wishes heard. Here is some helpful information on getting this tough talk started, keeping the conversation running smoothly, and documenting its results.

Approaching the Conversation

There are several ways to bring up the topic. Centennial senior care experts have found it is best to be straightforward and say you would like to hear about how your loved one prefers you to handle his or her care. If the subject is difficult for you to bring up, then consider using a relevant news story or personal experience as a springboard for conversation. Once your loved one is open to the discussion, make sure to hold the conversation in a quiet space when you are both relaxed.

Respect Your Loved One’s Wishes

During the conversation, make an effort to truly listen without judgment to your loved one’s preferences. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going, but avoid putting forth your personal opinion unless asked. At times, you or your loved one may find the discussion emotional or draining. If that happens, simply plan for another time to continue the conversation and move on to another topic. It is also possible your loved one may need additional time to make a decision on certain aspects of care. Don’t pressure him or her, just make sure to follow-up accordingly.

Get it in Writing

End-of-life care can have some legal aspects that should be tended to before an older adult requires hospitalization or serious medical treatment. Make sure to establish a durable power of attorney and living will that can be used to legally back your loved one’s decisions should the need arise. Make copies of all documents and keep them in a place that is easily accessible for both you and any other live-in or part-time caregivers. Finally, keep the conversation ongoing. Your loved one’s end-of-life care decisions may change as your family dynamics alter or he or she experiences a new health or financial situation.

When discussing end-of-life decisions, you might also encourage your loved one to plan for ongoing care. If your loved one is like most other seniors, he or she will want to age in place as long as possible. Live-in care in Centennial can help make your loved one’s wishes a reality. For more information on long-term care options, call 303.957.3100 to request a complimentary in-home consultation.

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