I have seen it too many times to count. A family calls me in desperation to help them because they are not sure as to what decisions to make regarding the care of a senior. They have bills to pay and no access to accounts. The family is not even sure where the financial information is located and they are so overwhelmed with other issues such as communicating with the hospital team and finding a long-term residence that it feels overwhelming to start digging for information.
On the other side of this coin is the senior who may feel left behind as his or her family makes decisions independent of his or her values. But how is the family to know what a senior wants if it was never discussed? How can health and financial professionals respect these choices if they were not in writing?
There is a preventable solution to this abyss. Put your wishes in writing, chose a representative, organize your financial/personal/medical information and have a family discussion. I know that this is not an easy thing to think about or do. But there is one thing for certain, you will age and you will likely need your family’s assistance on some level. Make sure that your values and expectations are respected and put your wishes in writing. Ensure that your finances and property are managed appropriately by choosing a representative you trust. Reduce family conflict by deciding how your family will work together so that things run as smoothly as possible.
We do not age in isolation. We age as a family and avoiding planning as a family will not prevent problems. Share this article with your family and start those discussions now. You can use the Erickson Resource Discussion Guide in the Caregiving Toolkit available at www.ericksonresource.com/worksheets