How to Handle End-of-Life Conversations With Your Parents



All lives come to an end. There is perhaps nothing harder to admit, but this is a universal truth. For most, having a discussion about end-of-life care with one’s parents is a process that’s at once deeply emotional and incredibly frustrating. Below are just a few tips that can help you to better make it through these conversations. Be forthright, give them room, consult a lawyer, and be understanding. These sorts of conversations will be difficult for both you and your elderly loved ones, but they are important to have.

End-of-Life Conversations Are Difficult To Have, but Important.

Be Forthright

One of the most important keys to having a good conversation about end-of-life issues with your parents is to be straightforward. This isn’t something that you need to trick them into, nor is it something about which you should speak vaguely. Instead, take the time to sit down with your parents and tell them exactly what you want to talk about and why. This will be a key step in opening a good, working dialog. Your parents will appreciate your forthrightness.

Give Them Room

While you may be having this conversation because of your own concerns, it’s vital that you let your parents steer as much of the conversation as possible. You might have to force them into the talk itself, but once you are there you should be a helper rather than a director. Make sure that your parents are the ones making the decisions and that they don’t feel forced into anything. If they feel like they’re being railroaded, you may find that your conversations will eventually become less productive. Let your parents lead, as it is their wishes that matter most.

Consult a Lawyer

Be sure to consult a lawyer. A conversation about planning for end-of-life care and after-death wishes should eventually involve more than just you and your parents. At some point, you are going to need to bring in an experienced estate planning attorney to help ensure that you’re going through the process the right way. Not only can this attorney help to make your parents’ wishes official, he or she can help them to do so in a way that best fits their needs. By consulting a lawyer, you will be able to prepare for eventualities you may not be aware of.

Be Understanding

Finally, try to understand that you’re talking about more than just a hypothetical. This conversation will make your parents have to confront their own mortality, which can be very tough for many people. Be prepared for the conversations to start and stop over time. The most important thing you can do is to be understanding while you try to ensure that all of the important work gets done.

These conversations are vital for all involved. Make sure that you explain that you’re having these conversations because you don’t want your parents to have to worry later. If you can establish a dialog now, you can ensure that your parents’ wishes are followed when you cannot ask them for advice.


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