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Making Decisions for Senior Living

Planning for Your Senior Years

You’ve been doing planning your future throughout your life. It was important then, and it’s even more important now. Deciding on what you want and communicating it to others is the best way to make sure your wishes, needs and wants are fulfilled. There’s no time like the present to get started.

Knowing Your Options

Seeking out legal, financial, and medical information will uncover the many options you have available. This will help you determine what’s right for you financially, emotionally and physically.

Many estate planners specialize working with seniors and can walk you through the process of living wills, trusts and other estate planning tools. You’ll not only be protecting yourself, but you’ll make sure that your loved ones are taken care of the way you wish.

Making medical decisions in the face of an emergency adds even more stress to a difficult situation. Many people have strong feelings about what they want to happen – but putting off the conversation with family members because it makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It’s not always an easy subject to talk about, but it’s one of the most critical discussions you can possibly have. If your wishes aren’t explicitly documented, decisions will be made for you, and it puts an added burden on your loved ones.

Your physician or other health care professional can share information about what your options are in different scenarios and how to make sure that your wishes are clearly documented in an Advanced Directive for medical staff. Consider giving a trusted family member or friend medical power of attorney and complete an Advanced Directive form from your state.

Difficult Conversations

They’re the conversations you don’t want to have and maybe put off because of their sensitive, emotional nature. You might want to avoid the conflict, but these conversations are some of the most important ones you’ll ever have.

It’s critical that you make decisions that are right for you – but helping your family understand why you feel the way you do, and why you’re making the decisions you’re making, might bring them along. When your decisions are acknowledged, understood and even supported by family members, you can focus your relax and focus on what matters – continuing to live your best life.

How comfortable do you feel talking to your children about

  • Your financial situation?
  • Your health?
  • Your end-of-life wishes?

These aren’t topics that are easily approached. Because we want to shield and protect our children, we always think there might be a better time. But no matter how difficult the conversation is, the reality is that not having the conversation is far more difficult in the long run.

5 Tips to Make Conversations with Your Family Members Easier

  1. BE PREPARED
    List out the topics you want to cover, in the order you want to cover them.
  2. BE DIRECT
    Say it straight. That ensures you’ll be more easily understood.
  3. ENCOURAGE QUESTIONS
    Because these topics can be emotional, people might not understand exactly what you’re saying.
  4. BE EMPATHETIC
    If you have family members who have trouble with change or don’t want to face the reality that we all age, the conversations can be particularly emotional. Give them some time to think about what you’re saying and return to the topic at another time. Be ready to revisit the conversation soon – or even just tell them that you love them, but you’ve made your decisions.
  5. BE STRONG
    Remind yourself: Your wants and needs MATTER. If you change your mind, you are definitely entitled to do so, but keep lines of communication open.

Getting the Conversation Going

Sometimes, the hardest part about the conversation are the first few words. One of the best ways is to talk about family or friends who have encountered their own difficult situations – and who didn’t have a plan in place. Explain that you’ve been thinking about it, and you don’t want it to happen to you. Try “You’re such a wonderful son/daughter and I trust you completely. That’s why I want to share some of my thoughts with you.”

6 Things Your Family Needs to Know

  1. The location of your will.
  2. What to do in case you need long-term care, including any long-term care insurance policies
  3. The general state of your health – and the health history of your own parents, siblings and other close relatives.
  4. The names and phone numbers of your doctors, lawyers, financial planner, etc.
  5. Who has the power to make medical decisions when you can’t – and what you want those to be. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney, advance directive or health care proxy, now’s the time.
  6. If you’ve already made (and paid for) funeral arrangements, share the information with your family. Even if you haven’t, being frank and open about what you want to happen may sound painful, but in reality, it’s a gift.