It is not uncommon for families to gather at this time of year only to discover that an elder family member is not managing well. Between trying to juggle complicated medical care and prescriptions, balance living on a budget, successfully shop and prepare wholesome meals, navigate increasingly complicated communications systems, and manage a home, some seniors find themselves unable to keep up.
What everyone hopes is that we’ll recognize the right time to intervene on behalf of a parent or loved one and that we’ll know when the right time comes. More often than not, the right time comes out of the blue when there is a crisis and we get the call that there is a life-changing event that forces us to make decisions under duress.
Beginning the “what if” conversation early will establish a road map for us to follow and respect the wishes of our elders when the right time happens. If a parent or loved one is no longer able to make sound decisions, we struggle to make determinations for them about how to proceed. Too often, from a sense of dutiful respect, we bow to the wishes (which is inevitably to make no changes) of an aging loved one who is no longer able to make safe and well-considered choices.
While you’re home for the holidays, begin the conversation.
A great way to open the door to that “what if” discussion is by sitting down together and preparing your Healthcare Advance Directives. It’s one of those documents that every adult should have no matter the age. As life circumstances change, it should be reviewed periodically. You can do it yourself and you don’t need to have an attorney or even a Notary. Simply download and print the form, read through the directions and make your selections. You will need a witness to the signatures so get a neighbor to come by for a holiday visit and do that for you. Make copies and see that your primary care physician gets a copy of it too!
Each state has similar forms. These directives are generally recognized by all agencies no matter which State approved form is utilized.