The fact that 9 out of 10 American’s will need someone to speak on their behalf before the end of their life was documented in a joint study done by the National Institutes of Health and Veteran’s Affairs.
Do yourself and your loved ones a favor by having a discussion about this FACT before you are faced with the reality. Those that step in to help will face a lifetime of guilt and doubt if you have not been clear about end-of-life wishes.
For those of us who have cared for someone with dementia, what we know is that there are years of choices to be made well before end-of-life that can be just as challenging. Telling someone I want to “die in my home” is probably not always practical, so offering some more guidance on ways you would like to spend your time if you have limited mobility or cognitive impairment.
What we know now is that isolation is a very real health issue. What is your social network and how will you be able to stay active if you can no longer drive yourself? What I have seen is that when many of my clients reach their 80s, they are finding that they no longer have local friends who can give them rides if they are still in the area. It get’s hard to make new friends when you aren’t getting out and trying new things.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you will carve out some time to start the conversation with your loved ones on how you plan to live the rest of your life. I’ve included three great resources below, and hope you might start by sharing with friends and family your ideas about how you will spend your time in your 60s and 70s; where you plan to be living and how you will be spending your time.
I am lucky my parents shared their thoughts with me. It made a difficult journey a little easier knowing that we did or are doing what we can to honor their individual wishes.
Hopefully, by reading one of these books you will get some ideas on how to best engage in a positive conversation with your loved ones this Thanksgiving. Wished.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (B&N $8.93) by Atul Gawande
It’s $11.00 at Amazon and free shipping for Prime members.
In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit.
AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices About Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle … and Pursuing Your Dreams by Bart Astor
Life after 50 isn’t what it used to be. The rules have changed. No more guaranteed pensions, retiree health plans, or extensive leisure and travel. It’s time to forge new paths and create innovative models. That’s where the AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life comes in. Bart Astor, author of more than a dozen books, offers a comprehensive guide for making lifestyle decisions, growing your nest egg, and realizing your goals. It’s a positive read I highly recommend.
The Conversation Starter Kit
If you want to be the expert on your wishes and those of your loved ones, not the doctors, nurses, or end-of-life experts, check out this free resource (donations accepted) that includes easy discussion starters for the coming holiday. This doesn’t have to be a gloomy conversation. I was lucky my parents shared their wishes with me.