10 Caregiver Tips for “The End of Life Care” Conversation

Posted on June 9th, 2010

Charting the Conversation for Caregivers

Caregivers are faced with many challenges.  One of the most stressful for many families is the end-of-life care conversation.  Yet, without this conversation you invite vulnerability and lack of control when it’s needed most. 

Prepare Your Plan for Better Senior Care

There is no such thing as not having a plan.  The lack of planning kicks off a default series of events.  For example, a former client of ours refused to designate a power of attorney.  When her health shifted and she was unable to make her own decisions, the hospital became her guardian.   Imagine how horrible!  “What should we do?” is a common question asked by many families caring for aging parents.  Start with a plan and these helpful steps. 

Helpful Tips for End-of-Life Care Conversation

  1. Best time to begin this conversation is when your senior’s health is stable and this is no emergency.
  2. Use the events of other family members and friends as a stimulus to begin the conversation.  For example, Aunt Sally died without a will.  Talk about the ramifications of this choice as a means of inquiring as to how your parent feels about these and related decision.  Let them elaborate about what they think Aunt Sally should have done.
  3. Suggest that wills be updated to best express the elders’ current wishes.
  4. Designate a durable power of attorney for health decisions and finance.
  5. Speak to an elder law attorney about estate planning issues.
  6. Create advanced directives to stipulate the senior’s wishes.
  7. Communicate and forward the power of attorney and advanced directives to the primary physician.  Put everything in writing.  Verbal communication is not enough.
  8. Engage in a frank conversation about finances and how future care will be funded.  Learn about the costs of home care, assisted care, and nursing care.
  9. Understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.
  10. End-of-Life is not a subject to be avoided rather it is an opportunity for caring, intimacy, and understanding the wishes of someone you love.

Caregiver’s Gift for Peace of Mind

The subject of this conversation activates many confrontational feelings for most people – seniors and their families.  This is natural and can be acknowledged as such.  Do not expect that this is a one time conversation.  Rather, it’s a topic to be raised and discussed over time.  It is a process and a gift for peace of mind.

Turning for the Support and Trust You Need in Better Senior Care

If you need support, rely on trusted professionals to help you.  Geriatric Care Managers are excellent coaches to help you to discuss these issues and communicate effectively.  Allow your care and love to be present as a background to your words.  The goal is to begin the actions to protect, support and allow seniors to convey their wishes and have them followed.


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BY  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President
Elder Connections  –  Solutions for Peace of Mind
Serving the Greater Philadelphia Region

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