Having ‘The Talk’: Preparing for the End-Of-Life Discussion With Your Parents
Death is a difficult topic to discuss for most people, but there are circumstances where its discussion is unavoidable. People tend to lose autonomy as they get older, as well, and having such a discussion can even be extremely important to an elder’s personal wishes for what they want to happen after they pass on.
If you are having trouble with finding a way to have an end-of-life discussion with an elderly parent, here are a few things to consider before you begin.
You should first make sure that you have a plan for how this discussion should go so you know what you want from it. Your plan can also include a way to segue into the topic in a relevant way to take some of the edges off of the tone of the conversation, but having a few specific points that you want to be addressed is key to making sure that the discussion is productive in some way.
Example topics can include what you need to do in case of a terminal illness and what should be done with their life insurance; whether or not they want to take advantage of the services of a viatical settlement provider could be the difference that is needed to save their life, but they are still within their rights to refuse such a service as well. Other topics like specific people that the parent wants to talk to, medications they consent to take, or what kinds of treatments they find acceptable are also likely to be relevant.
If your parent or parents are not capable of self-care, then thought should also be put into elderly patient-centered health care. While such health care may come at the cost of personal freedom, it can potentially be a way to make sure the patient in question is taken care of when their family is simply not capable of undertaking the task themselves.
In these cases, it is important to be honest with yourself about the limits of your ability to care for your family but neither should you consider yourself less capable than you are. If you are considering the possibility of moving a parent to a dedicated care facility but aren’t sure if it is the correct decision, it is well worth your while to take as much time as is reasonable to figure out what your limits are so you remain confident that you made the right decision.
All this being said, you should make sure to take their opinions as seriously as you can even if they find themselves subject to a decreased awareness of their situation. Many elderly people lash out or otherwise act irrationally in situations that don’t seem fair to them, and although there are a few ways to try to cope with these situations in many cases attempts to calm or discourage potentially self-destructive behavior are unsuccessful.
This irrational behavior may not be their fault if the elder in question has a serious mental condition like Alzheimer’s Disease or Schizophrenia and pharmaceutical treatment should be sought, if possible, so they can live the healthiest life possible for them.
Losing the things that make your life as great as it is would be difficult for anyone, but if you know what to expect you will be better prepared to make important decisions. Whether this means that you must have an end-of-life discussion with a parent or not is a matter of personal context (not everyone can handle them, after all), but it is at least worthwhile to think about what both you and your parents want for the future.