The things we don’t want to discuss….

January 14, 2014

As we prepare for a new year, we wish (or pray) for prosperity, love, friends, and good health. Generally, we start the year with positive thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Aging and mortality are subjects most of us have no desire to discuss. The unfortunate reality, however, is that none of us are exempt from tragedy and illness. Walk through a hospital. Read the obituaries. Visit a funeral home. You will find people of all ages. With that in mind, may I suggest a conversation about advanced planning? “What?” You ask. Let me explain with reference to a simple document entitled, “Five Wishes”. (Five wishes is a trademark of Aging with Dignity. Reference “http://www.agingwithdignity.org) Simply defined with five statements 1. The person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t. 2. The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want. 3. How comfortable I want to be. 4. How I want people to treat me. 5. What I want my loved ones to know. The time for conversation around these statements is not best had when gathered in an emergency room, by a hospital bed, or in a funeral home. When a family calmly discusses these topics in the comfort of their own home, with respect and love, a feeling of relief and security generally results. When tragedy and illness occur among families who have not had this very important conversation, the burden of decision making result in extreme stress, heartache, and family dissension. There are professionals who can facilitate these conversations. Some include financial investment professionals, elder law attorneys, estate planning attorneys, funeral directors, and care managers. While the discussion seems difficult, it most often results in one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you love and for whom you care. Carolyn Pointer Neil, RN, BSN, LNHA, MPH, GRN President/ CEO, Elder Advocates, Inc. Partner, The Center for Memory Management

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