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How To Discuss End-of-life Instructions With Your Loved One
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How To Discuss End-of-life Instructions With Your Loved One

May 21, 2014

While end-of-life conversations are never easy, the earlier you can discuss the subject with your aging parents, the better off you’ll be. In the event that an emergency happens before you’re able to have the talk, you could be faced with obstacles that prevent you from properly caring for their health or estate. Although it may seem premature, it’s best to have a plan in place before your loved one enters an assisted care community. Follow these tips to set yourself up for a sensitive, productive conversation with your family.

Two Adult Children sitting with a counselor
Bring it up naturally
To ease the pressure and keep a heavy conversation as light as possible, it might be best to break it down into a few smaller discussions, suggested CBS News. Bring up questions when you can naturally weave them into a situation. While you’re visiting and helping pay bills, for instance, you could ask where certain financial paperwork and tax records are. From there, you can lead into other financial topics that come up after a person passes, including will information and beneficiaries. However, it may not be worth waiting for the right moment if your parents are in poor health. Use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to initiate the conversation.

Be straightforward
Trying too hard to sugarcoat an issue could cause the conversation to last much longer than necessary, and it could also confuse those involved. Be direct about certain problems while remaining sensitive to your parents’ feelings, recommended AARP. For example, rather than passively asking if your dad still feels comfortable behind the wheel, voice your concerns and bring up anything you’ve noticed about his driving. Reassure him that you’re genuinely concerned, and he’ll be more likely to respond in a positive way. Although it’s difficult to be assertive when it comes to your parents’ health concerns, it may help to know that they were probably once in this position as well. As long as you stay sensitive when addressing them and make sure they know that you’re trying to fulfill their wishes, they should understand that you’re coming from a good place.

Get your family together
Not only could it be more difficult to initiate these conversations on your own, but it could also lead to a detrimental miscommunication with your siblings and extended family. For these reasons, it’s best to remain as transparent as possible. Create a list of all of the questions you want to cover together and decide how they should be communicated. With the help of others, having these conversations doesn’t have to be so difficult.

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