If your dad is healthy and independent, you may be surprised to learn that it’s the perfect time to discuss his end-of-life plans and preferences. It may be the last thing you want to do, but if your dad’s health declines quickly, you’ll both be glad to have plans in place.
Topics to Discuss
Where do you start? It’s a good idea to have a “checklist” in mind of things you’ll want to cover. You can use this list of questions as a starting point:
- Are there health occurrences that you can agree on that would indicate it’s a good time to move? These might include worsening mobility or an event such as a stroke.
- Who is in charge of making health care decisions if your dad is no longer able? In other words, has he designated a health care power of attorney?
- Does he have a living will? If not, when would be a good time to set one up?
- Who are your dad’s main medical contacts?
- If he needs more care, how does your dad feel about senior living communities? Would he prefer long-term in-home care?
- How up-to-date is your father’s estate plan? Is it time to set up a meeting with his lawyer?
- Is there a designated power of attorney for financial and legal decisions?
- What are your father’s wishes about a funeral? Is there money set aside?
- Does your dad have an organized document that lists financial and insurance accounts, as well as property holdings? Do you have access to that information?
How to Bring It Up
These can be difficult topics to discuss, but they’re difficult for everyone. Your dad also may be wondering how to broach the subject. Here are some tips:
- Choose a time when you both have time to talk and are in good spirits.
- Look for natural segues into the conversation, such as, “Dad, Aunt Linda just asked me to be her power of attorney. Do you have something similar set up?” If nothing arises, simply say, “Dad I want to do everything according to your wishes as you get older. Do you think we could talk about what that looks like?”
- Don’t push for immediate decisions. Chip away at the checklist above until you both feel confident about the future.
Chances are, your dad will be relieved to have someone on his side who is willing to help him plan for the future.
If he shuts down instead of opening up, take a compassionate approach, and try to get to the heart of his resistance. You can remind your dad that you know these plans aren’t fun and are often scary, but they’re necessary. Emphasize that you want to do things his way, rather than being forced to make a hurried decision that could be against his wishes.
The senior life professionals at Life Care Services can help guide you through this important step.