Now’s the time – the time to talk about the future, about wishes & preferences, about where, when and how. It’s Turkey Time and the gang’s all together.
Now is the perfect time to bring up the tough subjects with your elders. If they hesitate, bring them some more pie.
Gather your siblings, your parents, your in-laws, your elder family members (and the non-elder ones too) around and start talking. It’s a good time to use humor, to laugh and to make light of a few bits of this topic – but never doubt how important or how serious it is to have this discussion.
What do you talk about? Here’s my list of recommendations:
- Where? Where do you want to live as time marches on? Do you want to live in your current house? Your current retirement village? What about moving to live near me? Or sister Sally? If a big rock were to fall from a cloud and hit you in the foot, you couldn’t use your stairs anymore. Where would you want to go? If you need to, use a crazy example like that. It takes away the threatening feelings associated with “you’re going to get old and need care” thoughts.
- Talk about the money, honey. Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. So, what funds do they have socked away to pay for care, if they were to need it? Do they have long-term care insurance? Do they have investments that provide income to pay for care? Do we need to sell great-grandma’s land in Iowa eventually?
- Who’s got power of attorney? Who will speak for the elders if there were to need an alternate voice (legally)? What if that rock that fell from the cloud were to hit you in the head and knock you out for a few days? You’d need someone to speak on your behalf to the doctors and medical folks. That’s what a medical power of attorney (POA) is for. If your bills needed to be paid while you were knocked out, who is authorized at your bank or on your credit card to pay your bills or call your insurance agent? That’s what a financial power of attorney is for. Who has the POAs and where’s the paperwork?
- Advance Directive – let’s say the rock hit you on the nose and you needed some apparatus to help you breathe. Do you have any paperwork saying what help you want given and what you don’t want done? An advance directive is so important because it lists the heroic measures you want done on your behalf and which ones you don’t.
- Wills – Do you have one? Did you leave everything to me? (well, this could keep the conversation going…) Where’s the will – it’s not helpful if we can’t find it. Have you updated it since 1976?
- When you go to glory by riding off into the sunset, what do you want done with your body? Do you want to be buried next to great-aunt Esmeralda in the family cemetery in Bermuda? Do you want to be cremated? How about donating your body to the medical school? Do you want a disco party at your funeral? Do you want Cousin William to play his fiddle? Get the specifics about what their wishes are and what planning they’ve done for this part of the journey.
I know. This is not your favorite topic. It’s not theirs either. But now is the time to talk about it. If you get their input now, they’ll have a say in what happens. If you don’t, it’s possible that they won’t. You can postpone this talk until an emergency happens, but if you do, you’ll all be in panic mode and not in “listening” mode. That’s not a good time to reach out for input, make reasoned decisions and solve immediate issues.
Talk turkey today! Just do it (with or without the swoosh). Sit everyone down and start talking. You may even have a bit of fun with it. But, whatever happens, you’ll be glad you had this talk when the time comes that you need the information.
Be grateful for the time you have today and be thankful that you can have this talk over pie (and not in a hospital waiting room).
Happy Turkey Day!