How to Talk about End of Life Planning
It is difficult for most people to talk about the end of their life. People put off the conversation with their loved ones because they don’t want them to be afraid. But this doesn’t help anything. It is best to bring up end of life planning before health becomes a concern. We plan just about everything we do. We plan when we have kids, what we eat, what we wear, the movies we see, the cars we buy, and gifts we give. Planning for the end of our lives should be another step in the planning process, but the stigma gets in the way.
The end of our lives is the neglected plan that we should be talking about, but not many people in Western societies prefer to talk about death. But what we’re missing is that there is so much to be gained by planning ahead, having productive conversations, and easing the fear of your loved ones. Most adults tread carefully when it comes to the end of life talks, but if it is brought up early, before elderly health concerns settle in, we can properly comfort our loved ones and have talks that lead to productive outcomes.
A recent study reported that 80 million American families have not talked about end of life planning. Furthermore, 70 percent of these conversations are originally prompted by a health crisis or an emergency. We shouldn’t let it get to that point. While bringing up these issues can be awkward for everyone involved, it can really help your loved ones who are aging. The stigma leads to less acceptance and solace, not talking about death doesn’t make it go away.
Starting the Conversation
It is important to know how to get the conversation about end of life planning started. First you should bring up this topic when the person is happy and healthy. It isn’t good to wait until the end of their life. Instead make plans without the emotions surrounding a health crisis. People say that you should bring up end of life planning when the person’s children are middle aged, but it can be really helpful to bring it up before that. Being open about these issues will not only help your loved one cope with the end of their life, it will help those close to them.
A helpful way to start the conversation is to bring up your own mortality. Say that you’ve been thinking about your end of life plans and that you are wondering about theirs. This takes the pressure off the person by acknowledging that your death is also inevitable. Death is an essential part of life that everyone will experience. There is no avoiding this. It can be helpful to bring up the conversation by acknowledging this fact rather than avoiding it. Then you will have control of the narrative and can rear the conversation in a productive way.
It is also a good idea to educate yourself in the medical field surrounding end of life planning. Once you have started the conversation, you will be able to ask your loved ones about their choices should something happen to them. Receiving calm answers is key. Ask about touchy issues like terminal illness, treatment, the inability to make choices, and the possibility of long-term care when your loved one is in the right headspace. According to the site MoneyPug, which is often used to find life insurance, bringing up topics like insurance can be a good way to take emotions out of the conversation. Talking about numbers, years, and policies isn’t exactly the most sentimental topic. As a family member, you can use this to your advantage.
However old you and your loved one are, getting the end of life planning conversation started early is key to making the right decisions and finding out what you need to know to help your loved one when their time comes. Talking about these issues before a health crisis is absolutely instrumental. Be open about the process and you will not only get down your loved one’s wishes, you will be able to comfort each other in the process.