Sharing Your Senior Living Decision
If you’ve been planning your future throughout your life, good for you! It was important to you in the past, and it’s even more important to you now. Deciding on what you want and letting others know is the best way to make sure your wishes and needs are fulfilled. There’s no time like the present to get started.
Discover your options.
Remember to look into legal, financial and medical information to uncover the many options you have available. By doing so, you can determine what’s right for you financially, emotionally and physically.
Find an estate planner who specializes in working with seniors. Schedule a consultation with someone who can walk you through the process of living wills, trusts and other estate planning tools. You’ll protect yourself and make sure those you love are taken care of the way you wish.
Certain conversations may be challenging.
Don’t wait for a health care emergency. If you are forced to make a medical decision in the face of an emergency, it can add even more stress to a difficult situation. It’s common for someone to have strong feelings about what they want to happen – so don’t put off the discussion with family members just because it makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It may not be an easy subject to talk about, but it could be one of the most important discussions you can have. If your desires aren’t explicitly documented, decisions will be made for you, and that can put an added burden on your loved ones.
Your physician or other health care professional can assist you with information about what your options are in different scenarios. They can also ensure your wishes are clearly documented in an advance directive for medical staff. Consider giving a trusted family member or friend medical power of attorney, and complete an advance directive form from your state.
Talking to your children about your financial situation, your health and your estate plans can be very emotional. Before you discuss these matters, take the time to process your own feelings. These topics are often avoided because we want to shield and protect our children. But waiting to have the talk can have damaging consequences.
How to make conversations with family members easier.
Write down the topics you want to address, in the order you want to cover them.
Your honesty ensures you’ll be more easily understood.
OPEN UP TO QUESTIONS
Because these topics can be emotional, people may not understand exactly what you’re saying.
You may find there are family members who have trouble with change or don’t want to face the reality that we all age. The conversations can be particularly emotional for them. Don’t rush your discussion. Let some time pass so these family members can think about what you’re saying and then return to the topic at another time. Revisit the conversation soon though – or even just tell them that you love them, but you’ve made your decision.
Try to be strong and remember that your wants and needs are what matter. You’re entitled to change your mind, but keep lines of communication open.
Starting the conversation.
Often, one of the most awkward parts about the conversation is the first few words. Try telling the story of another family or friends you know who have encountered their own challenging situations. Relate how they didn’t have a plan in place and the difficulties that caused for them. Explain that you’ve been thinking about it, and you don’t want it to happen to you. Try saying, “You’re so good to me and I trust you completely. That’s why I want to share some of my thoughts with you.”
Checklist for your family.
How confident are you that your loved ones will have everything they need to handle your affairs should you be unable to? Here are some things you’ll want to share:
- The location of your will and an up-to-date medical power of attorney, advance directive or health care proxy
- What to do in case you need long-term care, including any long-term care insurance policies
- A list of all financial accounts and where they are held
- The general state of your health, a list of doctors and medications
- Funeral arrangements, if you’ve already made and paid for them
The sooner you begin your talk about senior living planning with your loved ones, the easier it will be on everyone involved.
It’s critical you make decisions that are right for you. But it’s also important because it can help your family understand why you feel the way you do. In addition, it can show them why you’re making the decisions you’re making, so it might bring them along. When your decisions are acknowledged, understood and even supported by family members, you can relax and concentrate on what matters – continuing to live your best life.