Each life has a beginning and an end, but discussing a loved one’s final plans can be a difficult and emotionally daunting conversation. Knowing this, many families put off these topics or redirect the conversation when an aging loved one brings up their end of life plans. However, it’s incredibly important that these discussions take place in order to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are respected and seen to fruition when the time is right.
Challenging as it may be, it’s often a relief when these discussions have been had. And, it may get you thinking about your own end of life plans—something it’s best to handle sooner rather than later. Here are some high level points your family may want to discuss—for personalized advice, we recommend speaking to a trusted financial advisor and/or your family doctor.
Older individuals should have a Power of Attorney document in order for their health and/or finances. The person named as the POA for health should have a clear sense of what your loved one wants done (or not done) to prolong their life. For example, is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) appropriate or would your loved one prefer that life-saving measures be carried out in the event of a serious medical event? Have these discussions and ensure that their wishes are not only well understood, but also well documented. (You can read more on choosing a Power of Attorney for health here in this previously published blog post.)
This great article suggests starting conversations with statements like, “what matters to me is…” and seeing where it goes. A person may let you know that they want to be surrounded by loved ones or given privacy in their final days. They may want to remain at home, or be comfortable moving to hospice care as needed. These discussions should be held with the primary caregivers and decision-makers in your aging loved one’s life (and they should decide who those individuals are).
All adults should have a legal Will in place, but this document is even more important as we age. It’s also wise to consult with a financial advisor to minimize the impact of paperwork, taxation and probate, which can be a source of stress for surviving family members. Because everyone’s estate planning needs are unique, professional advice is key. Some families may want to discuss inheritance, particularly when properties like a family cottage are involved. Again, we advise speaking with a financial professional who can provide personalized advice.
Celebration of life
An end of life celebration can look like many different things: an informal gathering to share memories, a secular service, or a religious ceremony led by a trusted spiritual leader. Ask your aging loved one what their wishes are for celebrating their life—do they want a formal funeral and/or visitation? If so, should it be private or open to everyone? Will it happen in a funeral home, a church or a different space? Have arrangements been made for a burial site, and do they wish to be cremated? Are there specific songs or readings they would like included during their service? Ask these questions and determine their preferences for speakers, their obituary and other end of life details.
However heavy these conversations may be, we promise you’ll find relief and peace of mind once these details are known. And remember—our team of skilled, dedicated caregivers is here to help care for your aging loved one no matter what stage of life they’re in. We’re here to help seniors and their family members, providing exceptional care that allows them to live safely and comfortably in their own home. Thanks for reading, take care, and please contact us if you have any questions about in-home caregiver services in Toronto.