End of life conversations are one of the most difficult to have with a parent or loved one. As difficult as it may be, it is in the best interest of your parent or loved one to have this conversation early on so that when the time comes a solid plan is in place.
A great way to start is by asking questions on their preferences for the type of care that they might need. Some examples include:
- What type of medical care do they want?
- Who should make decisions on care?
- Who would they like to care for them?
(A family member, a caregiver, a family friend or neighbor)
- Where would they like to spend their last days?
(Care facility, hospital, or in their home)
The next step would be to ask about preferences for death/burial:
- Where do they want to be buried? Do they have a burial plot? (Should it be used or is there another location preferable)
- Do they care about open/closed casket?
- Do they want to be cremated? (Should their ashes be kept/stored, or do they have a place they want them scattered)
- What type of funeral services do they want?
Use the answers to these questions to create two of the most important directives: A Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
1.) A Living Will: This document specifies their wishes regarding medical treatment, and particularly the refusal of life-prolonging medication when death is imminent.
2.) Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: This document allows your parents or loved one to appoint someone they trust to act on their behalf and make decisions regarding their medical treatment if they are unable to do so.
For information on finding a lawyer in your area to answer questions on estate planning or to help complete a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney visit: http://elderlawanswers.com
Another option that can stand in place of the above is The Five Wishes. Five Wishes was created by Jim Towey who worked closely with Mother Teresa for one year in a hospice she ran in Washington, D.C. Inspired by this first-hand experience Mr. Towey along with The American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging created The Five Wishes. This easy to follow, step-by-step guide not only address wishes for medical care but also personal, emotional, and spiritual needs.
For more information on Five Wishes please visit: http://www.agingwithdignity.org
No matter what choices your loved one makes regarding their end of life care you will have peace of mind that when the time comes you will be respecting and honoring their wishes by following the plan you created together.