Initiating conversations about end-of-life planning with your aging parents or loved ones may feel awkward at first, but it is something you will not regret. As an end-of-life doula, I believe planning is a gift to your future self and your loved ones.
HERE ARE THE TOP FIVE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR AGING PARENTS & LOVED ONES TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE.
Bonus points if you can answer the questions about your plans too!
1. Have you solidified your healthcare preferences?
Specifically, do you have an advance healthcare directive or a living will that outlines your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments, resuscitation, and other critical medical decisions? Designating a healthcare proxy who can advocate for your wishes is also important.
TIP: Visit www.AARP.org to find free Advanced Healthcare Directives by state
2. Do you have a will or estate plan in place?
If so, have you named an executor to handle your affairs?
TIP: Establishing a trust can help protect your assets and minimize probate. Contact an estate lawyer for help with this.
3. Do you have at least 1-3 people that know where to find your
Knowing the location of essential documents will help your loved ones navigate legal and financial matters efficiently (wills, birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, bank statements, and other relevant documents).
TIP: A binder or a file that contains all the necessary information, including account numbers and contact details for your financial institutions and other accounts is helpful!
4. Have you considered pre-planning your funeral or memorial service?
While it may feel a bit uncomfortable to discuss, planning or communicating wishes for your funeral or memorial service can provide an opportunity to express your wishes and relieve the burden on family members in the future. If you have specific preferences for final arrangements, such as burial or cremation, type of service, or desired location you can document those details and preferences ahead of time or consider pre-paying for funeral expenses.
TIP: Look into your local laws for information on alternative options like green burials, eco-friendly options, and more!
5. Are there any sentimental items or personal stories you would like to share?
It’s important to preserve family history and honor the life you lived. If there are sentimental items you wish to pass on or stories you want to share with future generations, be sure to have that information accessible or recorded for your loved ones.
TIP: StoryCorps is a great app to record and share family stories with others!
Remember, planning is a gift that brings peace of mind and enables you and your loved ones to leave a legacy of love.
Initiating these conversations is an act of love and respect for yourself and your family. By asking your loved ones (& yourself) these five questions, you can feel a sense of empowerment from planning, ensure your and your family’s wishes are honored, and ease the burden on yourself and other family members during challenging times.
If you aren’t sure where to begin or would like extra support with this process – Let’s chat!