It’s never easy going into these types of conversations, but at the same time, talking about worst-case scenarios can be oddly freeing. Once the silence is broken, it’s like a weight is lifted. Having talked, you are free to enjoy the time ahead.
Don't let the conversation just end.
The most desirable outcome of the talk is action. Below are some tips and topics to help the planning continue.
- Keep the door open – It’s a lot to digest, particularly if your loved ones haven’t given their future much thought. Be patient. As your parent’s health, finances, situation and lifestyle change so will their needs and views. So revisit these topics regularly.
- Legal issues – Be sure your loved ones have their important legal documents in place— an up-to-date will, a durable power of attorney (giving someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf), a living will (outlining wishes for end-of-life care), and a power of attorney for health care (which is geared specifically toward medical decisions). And be sure you should know where these documents are kept.
- Meet their doctor – Get to know your parent’s physician and stay in touch. Get the proper paperwork in order so the doctor can share their medical information with you. Know what health insurance policies are in place and how to access them.
- Continue to talk – These important conversations can bring unexpected insights and intimacy. They can bring understanding and even resolution. Truly getting to know someone you have known all your life, learning about their past as well as their hopes for the future, brings unimaginable rewards. Don’t wait. Take the time to talk.