Even if your elderly family member has shared some of her end-of-life wishes with you in the past, some of that situation may have changed. It’s important to make sure you’re aware of what she needs and what she wants so that you can take care of those for her. But if you haven’t ever talked about this, that’s your first challenge.
Ease Gently into the Conversation
Most aging adults are going to get startled if you just toss out questions about the end of their life without much warning. It’s a conversation that can be really difficult, even if you and your senior are each independently thinking about it. Try to find ways to gently find your way into this topic and pay attention to cues your senior may give you that she doesn’t want to discuss anything.
Listen to What She Shares
Once your elderly family member starts talking, the best thing that you can do is to listen to her. She may want to skip around a bit and talk about different aspects of future care or situations. What’s really important is that you have the conversation rolling and you and your senior can work through details together.
Revisit the Conversation to Make Sure You’ve Got All the Details
You might think that this is something you can talk about once and then you’re done. Unfortunately, this topic is so far-reaching that you’ll need to revisit it more than once. It’s also possible that as you and your senior talk about these issues, either or both of you may think of additional questions or aspects that you want to address further.
Get Help Putting Those Wishes into Place
If your elderly family member is already at a stage in which her health is suffering, she may be ready for hospice care services. The added benefit of working with hospice care providers is that they can help you to find the resources that you need to meet your senior’s final wishes and needs. This can relieve you of a great deal of the pressure of figuring out how to make all of that happen.
Your senior might not be excited about this conversation the first few times you try to bring it up. That’s okay because you’re going to want to take your time with it. Just don’t wait so long that you aren’t able to ever have the conversation at all.