Discussing your parents’ future wishes is often a difficult conversation to have. Whether it’s breaching the subject of care options or tentatively trying to discover what their end of life preferences are, knowing how to ask these questions can at times be challenging. However, it is very important to have the conversation to make sure that firstly, you are aware of your parents’ preferences, and to secondly, establish what you can then do to ensure that, if possible, their wishes are honoured. But how do you go about initiating this ultimately sensitive discussion? And what exactly should you include in it? Below, we offer some advice.
How to start a conversation about your parents’ future wishes
When beginning this discussion, be as thoughtful as you can by asking a question that isn’t too direct and that is open-ended enough for your parents to reveal information on their own. For example, you could ask if they have any worries concerning later life that they’d like to talk about. A topic like this can serve to highlight specific concerns or reveal any underlying issues that your parents’ may have regarding their future. However, it may also prompt them to look to the past and reminisce about particular memories. If this happens, try and be patient and listen to them attentively as this will enable them to share their thoughts with you and may bring you closer.
Things to discuss
There may be an abundance of questions you want to ask your parents but try not to lead the conversation too much. Asking an open-ended question at the start will have enabled some issues to be brought to light so try and work with these. Some of these issues may include:
For many older people, finances can be a cause for concern. Therefore, determining if your parents feel financially stable is important. Furthermore, it is vital to make sure that they understand the cost of services they may potentially need in the future to enable them to build this into their costings. At this juncture, it may also be worth asking if your parents have a will. If not, you may want to suggest making an appointment with an elder care attorney who can help with the legalities of distributing their assets.
Your parents may say that they feel concerned about their housing arrangements. If so, try and establish whether they would like to stay in their home or if this were no longer possible, what they would like to happen instead. Subsequently, you may wish to outline some potential possibilities like moving in to specialised care accommodation or with one of their children. Alternatively, you could suggest hiring a care assistant or investing in services that may enable them to stay in their home for longer. By making these suggestions, you should soon be able to pick up on their preferred outcome.
Death and Funerals
This will undoubtedly be the hardest subject to discuss for both you and your parents. However, it is necessary to determine your parents’ end of life wishes in order to ensure that you can honour them at the appropriate time. Establishing whether they have decided on specific funeral services is a good place to start. If they have, this will then make it easier for you to know that when the time comes, you will be using a service that your parents have chosen themselves and would therefore be happy with. Similarly, enquiring about hospice care is something else that may become useful in the long-term and your parents’ may have somewhere in mind that they would like to go to if required.
Initially, this conversation will be a tough one to have. However, the likelihood is that it will turn into a continual discussion rather than a one-off talk, meaning that if at any point you sense that it’s becoming difficult, you can move on to something else or return to it once your parents feel more comfortable.
Overall, by remaining observant and approaching things from a well-thought-through angle, having that conversation about your parents’ future wishes can hopefully be made that little bit easier. To find out more, please visit our legal page for information about getting legal help for seniors or get in touch via our social media.