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Discussing End-of-Life Decisions with Elderly

By Cherie Coe, 9:00 am on

While discussing end-of-life wishes is not a conversation anyone enjoys, it’s important for seniors and their caregivers and family members to have an open discussion as soon as possible. Understanding and respecting a senior’s wishes can ensure your loved one’s final months or years are as pleasant, comfortable, and stress-free as possible. This guide from leading Jefferson live-in care provider, Home Care Assistance, will help you address this sensitive topic and get the conversation started.

Starting the Discussion

It’s best to plan this conversation in advance and hold it in a quiet and distraction-free environment. One-on-one, private discussions tend to work best. Because everyone copes with end-of-life planning in their own way, give your assurance that you will honor and respect your loved one’s wishes by asking to discuss the topic rather than beginning with specific questions or concerns.

A good way to ask permission to open the discussion is letting your loved one know that you would be afraid of not knowing what he or she wants if they get very sick. If you’re met with resistance about the conversation, simply plan for a different time in the near future to discuss these issues.

Have Questions Prepared

Most people prefer to get everything out in the open all at once. While it’s important to allow your loved one to set the pace of the conversation, have specific questions in mind. Ask your loved one about the types of treatments he or she would prefer if diagnosed with a terminal illness, discuss long-term home care options, as well as who should make financial and medical decisions if your loved one is unable to make them him or herself.

Listen

It can be tempting to argue or try to debate your loved one’s wishes, but resist the urge. Make an effort to really listen to what your loved one is telling you and show your concern by nodding your head or holding your loved one’s hand. Make it clear that you consider your loved one’s feelings important and give a verbal acknowledgement of your loved one’s right to make his or her own end-of-life decisions, even if you disagree with them.

It’s important to follow up this conversation by helping your loved one prepared an advanced directive and other end-of-life documents to ease the fear and anxiety they will likely experience at some point.

During this discussion, it’s important to discuss care plans in the event your loved one experiences a significant medical event or is diagnosed with a progressive condition. If he or she wishes to remain at home as long as possible, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a trusted provider of stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care in Jefferson County in addition to offering part-time and live-in home care for seniors. Although your senior loved one may not yet require home care services, it’s never too early to discuss options and have a plan in place just in case. Give us a call at (303) 987-5992 to speak with a friendly Care Manager who can answer your questions and tell you more about our customized services.