One of the most difficult discussions we will ever have with our family members is about our end of life. Many older adults and seniors avoid having this talk until it’s too late. They suddenly become ill and are hospitalized. With no family members who are responsible for health decisions this can mean that a loved one is not resuscitated if they have chosen that option or they may be kept on life support much longer than they would have wished.
To die well, we must talk about death before the end of life. Some ways we can do this are to:
- Talk about terminal illness. This can be a sensitive subject for family members who may not want to admit that a loved one is dying. Talking about it helps to relieve anxiety on both the family member and the loved one. Last wishes can be ensured, especially those that involve treatment options at the end.
- Focus on family members. Family members are usually the caretakers for a loved one who is terminally ill. They will also take over following the death of their family member so all should be involved in the discussion. This also helps with the grieving process since there are no surprises and they know that they are fulfilling your last wishes.
The end of life process involves others besides the person who is dying. Family members, friends and your healthcare team all play a part and the more we are prepared, the more comfortable we will be. Worries about others or financial problems have been take care of and everyone knows their part. Invasive treatments at end of life can be avoided as can long-term care homes if they aren’t wanted. Planning for death can be a relief and many older adults start this planning early before they become ill. To read the full article on talking about end of life, click here.