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Avoid the “should have” syndrome. Talk to your family NOW about how to age as a family team. Prepare, plan and share your expectations.

June 18th, 2014

Many of us don’t want to think about getting old, becoming sick, or even dying.  I get it.  Even I don’t like these discussions and this is what I do every day with my clients!  I am fortunate because these client experiences have shown me what can happen when individuals don’t prepare for the challenges that aging can bring.  I have seen a myriad of family responses that arise in aging crises from harmonious family situations, contentious family relationships and everything in between.

I see families avoid discussions about aging until it is too late to have productive conversations.  The time to discuss how you want your family to advocate and represent you should you need help is not when you are in the hospital or a rehab facility…it’s BEFORE you get there.  Make sure that you research the legal paperwork that can be drafted so that you can put your wishes in writing, such as a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney, etc.

You may believe that avoiding difficult discussions is a way to prevent pain and suffering.  In fact, it is the opposite.  You will get older and you MAY need help.  If you do need support, don’t you want to dictate how that support is provided?  If you want to stay at home for as long as possible don’t you want to plan for that?  You do have a choice.  You can choose how you age by connecting with your family, preparing your legal documentation, and then sharing your expectations and plans with the people you love.  I know this is not easy.  But trust me, the hard work on the “front end” of aging has immeasurable value in your later years.  Your family will thank you and appreciate your efforts, even if they don’t know it yet!

Send this article to someone in your family as a means to open the door to family discussions.

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Suzette Brown 2014-07-15 11:20:03

Thank you for this article.  I have tried and tried to tell family members, co-workers, friends - etc the SAME thing.  
GO to an elder attorney while your loved one still has the legal capacity to sign legal forms and documents.  Six months down the road may be TOO late.
Most dismiss it, unfortunately.  Many don't want to "upset" a loved one or family member - and make an appointment with a lawyer....no - how could they do that to their loved one?
The consequences of NOT retaining an elder attorney practiced and experienced in elder law could and are devastating to the family. 
I try to explain the process of their homes possibly going to the State, insurance and retirement funds liquidated to pay for assisted living services, possessions and accounts - gone.

These are included in my "should" and "could" haves as well.

Thank you - 
Suzette Brown
"Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes"

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