Communicating End of Life Wishes

    Let's face it. End of life discussions aren't high on the list of conversations people like to have. Caregivers in Colorado are no different. While older adults may put together their Advance Directives as part of their advance care planning, the process often stops there. The problem is that advance care planning doesn't end with just completing the documents. Loved ones need to be aware of what their loved ones end-of-life wishes are with respect to medical care and need to know how to access their written documents.

EndofLifeDiscussion    A Pew Research study in 2009 showed just how prevalent the problem is. Research showed that for adults aged 65 and over, 76% of them had discussed their will and estate plans with their loved ones. But one in three of them had failed to also let their children know what their end-of-life wishes were. While we all hope to grow old gracefully and pass away in our sleep, life's realities do not often align with that hope. For families the conflicts that occur during an emergency, when they are forced to make those decisions for an elderly parent, can cause irreparable damage to sibling relationships.

    What can you do to make sure your end-of-life wishes are honored?

• Document your wishes. Work with an attorney to make sure you have met the legal requirements necessary. Visit our Resources Page (http://www.seniorsintrans.com/index.php/caregiving-resources/web-resources) for some helpful legal services and elder law contacts.
• Once you have a written document, keep it somewhere in your home that your family can access. You should also make sure at least one family member that you want to speak for you has a copy. Many people store them in a safety deposit box that can only be accessed by court order or after their death.
• This may be the toughest part of the process – verbally discuss and share your wishes with your family. Talk about what you would like to happen and who you want to speak for you. This lets everyone know before a crisis happens and emotions are at their peak.
Have you shared your end-of-life wishes with family? What was the most difficult part about advance care planning?

    From personal care needs and case management to guardianship concerns, Seniors in Transition provides consulting services to help families turn frustrating health care problems into quality, affordable solutions. Seniors in Transition is here to help families in the Fort Collins, CO and Loveland, CO areas. Visit our website at www.seniorsintrans.com or call 970.204.6977 today.

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