Discussing Health and Aging Issues with Your Family
Issues that often emerge as people age can be identified with the H.I.D.E. acrostic:
- Health and care concerns – Physical challenges; limited mobility; cognitive deficit
- Independent living concerns – The (in)ability of people to handle grocery shopping, meal preparation, house cleaning, laundry duties, bills, etc.
- Driving concerns – Safety while running errands or visiting friends
- Emotional concerns – The (in)ability to cope and maintain hope, manage feelings, face reality, make decisions, live free from the power and control of others, etc.
We encourage you to engage in conversations in a casual and non-threatening manner before issues emerge, and before stress and emotion become a major factor. Take this opportunity to talk with your loved one about their beliefs and values so that you know what’s most important.
Discussion topics to help you honor your aging family member’s wishes might include:
AGING and INDEPENDENCE
- What would your loved ones want you to do if they were no longer safe to drive, live independently, handle personal affairs, etc.?
- How might they like you to express and address concerns?
- What would they want you to do if they were resistant to your attempts to help?
- If they had care needs would they prefer to move to an assisted living facility/nursing home, arrange for care services to be provided at their home, move in with family, etc.?
- Is there a particular person they have named as Power of Attorney to manage personal affairs?
HEALTH and TREATMENT
- What are their thoughts about pursuing medical treatments vs. alternative therapies to fight an illness?
- What are their thoughts about pursuing a surgery (e.g., knee or hip replacement) that might enhance quality of life?
- Does your loved one have a Living Will?
- Do they understand the implications of their choices (e.g., Do Not Resuscitate)?
- Is there a particular person they have named as Power of Attorney for Health Care to make decisions should they become incapacitated?
END-OF-LIFE and DEATH
- What do they want to accomplish in their “Golden Years”?
- How aggressive of treatment would your loved one wish to pursue to sustain life? Why?
- What are their thoughts on comfort care and Hospice?
- Are there any special requests in terms of remembrance and legacy?
Discussing important issues and gaining these insights will help your family avoid conflict, and will help you carry out your loved one’s wishes with confidence.
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