Making Decisions for Senior Living
Making Decisions for Senior Living
Planning for the future. You’ve been doing it all your life, and it’s no less important now in your senior years. Armed with the knowledge you need, you can look forward with confidence and make sure your wishes, needs, and wants are fulfilled. The earlier a plan is in place, the more you can live your life the way you choose.
Knowing Your Options
The first step in making sure you have a plan for the future is educating yourself on the many options available so that you’re able to determine what’s right for you financially, emotionally, and physically.
Many estate planners specialize working with seniors and will be able to present you with a clear picture of the benefits of living wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools. By assessing your current situation and making a plan for your post-retirement years, you can realistically move forward, as well as make sure that your loved ones are taken care of the way you wish in the future.
Medical decisions are among the most difficult to make in advance of an actual emergency. Many people have strong feelings about what they want to happen – but don’t often discuss them with family members because it makes people feel uncomfortable. If your wishes aren’t explicitly spelled out and documented, decisions will be made for you, and it puts an added burden on already stressed loved ones who have to make the tough calls in your stead. It’s not always an easy subject to talk about, but it’s one of the most critical discussions you can possibly have.
Your doctor or a senior resources center in your area can share information about what your options are in different healthcare scenarios and how to make sure that your wishes are clearly documented for medical staff. Consider giving a trusted family member or friend medical power of attorney and complete an Advanced Directive form from your state.
Having “The Talk” With Your Kids
Difficult conversations. There’s a reason why we call them that. They’re the conversations you don’t want to have, but you know that you should. They’re about sensitive, emotional issues. Sometimes they’re about decisions that you feel strongly about, but you know at least one member of your family isn’t going to be happy. They’re also some of the most important conversations you will 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, will help you make the entire process easier. When your decisions are acknowledged, understood and even supported by family members, you can focus your energy 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?
For many of us, none of these are easy topics. We want to shield and protect our children. Sometimes we hope that if we wait long enough, the issue will fix itself. But no matter how difficult the conversation is, the reality is that not having the conversation is far more difficult in the long run.
There are ways to make difficult conversations easier!
What are your wishes? If you’re choosing between multiple options, what’s your #1? Your #2?
Sometimes we worry so much we’ll hurt someone’s feelings or worry them, we hint around the subjects. But with important issues, you have to be able to say it straight out.
Know your own limits – physical, emotional, and financial.
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. Sometimes it’s okay to start the conversation and give them some time to think about what you’ve said. But that doesn’t mean sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t happen. Be ready to revisit the conversation soon – or even tell just tell them that you love them, but you’ve made your decisions.
Remind yourself: Your wants and needs MATTER. As you talk through things with your family, your priorities may change, but make sure you’re happy with the ultimate resolution.
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.”
Here’s everything your family should know:
- If you have a will or trust (and you should!) – where it’s located, who the executor is, and what they should expect.
- If you have a plan for long-term care, including long-term care insurance.
- Your general health – and the health history of your own parents, siblings, and other close relatives.
- 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.
- 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.