It is hard to anticipate the future, but not all of the time. As you age, you become more aware that your time is running out, and yet some people like to ignore the fact they are aging and what aging means for them. The reality is as you grow older, you need to start thinking about what you want to leave your family as your legacy, what you want to leave in your will. No one ever anticipates becoming ill or disabled to the point that they are no longer able to care for themselves, and in most cases that means there is a caretaker who was related to the person in question and they were never intended to be that caretaker.
This can leave you ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the future. No, we don’t mean for when they pass, because that’s easily prepared for. Funeral plans are more common than final wills and testaments. If you are a caregiver, then you have stepped into this position because you saw a need that was most likely immediate. No matter the circumstances under which you are caring for someone who is ill, disabled or elderly, there was likely not a lot of time to talk through the situation and plan out your caregiving role. And if your loved one is somebody who has not thought ahead to what is going to happen when they die, that is most likely going to fall to you.
This is why you should have the hard conversation with your loved one to ensure that everyone is on the same page. From their medical care to their estate and will plans. If they’re making funeral arrangements, they need to have a will. It would likely to do them a lot of good for they are ever sick and unhealthy, but we realize that cannot happen in every case.
You need to ensure that whatever plan you come up with your loved one is a solid enough plan to plan and the future for their finances, physical care, and what other types of care they may need down the line.
Remember, choosing a great nursing home or assisted living facility can seem impossible if you run up against waitlist or other financial hurdles, so your time to plan is now, before there’s ever an issue at hand or something to be dealt with that could potentially financially harm you.
The conversation rolling here are a few key issues begin discussing with your loved one. You should approach them gently about their continued independence and best wishes in mind as you ask:
- What are your wishes for emergency or end-of-life medical care (i.e. life support, feeding tubes)?
- Are there any lifesaving procedures you would NEVER want?
- Who do you trust to make medical decisions and communicate with your doctors if you are unable to speak for yourself?
- What are your thoughts on long-term care? If it seems you are becoming too sick to live at home, what are your thoughts on assisted living or a nursing home?
- Do you have a Will, Trust, or other estate planning documents in place? Where can we find them and are they up to date?
- Who have you named in your “legal helper” roles (i.e. Power of Attorney)? Where can we find the documents we need to handle your affairs in an emergency?