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4 Ways to Help Your Elderly Loved One Put Together a Living Will

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on

While it can be difficult to talk about, helping your senior loved one put together a living will is an important part of Chandler in-home care. Ideally, every adult should have a living will, but it is especially important for seniors given the majority of health concerns and conditions that can arise. Here are some tips to make the experience less stressful for your loved one and the rest of your family. 

1. Approach the Topic Sensitively

Starting the discussion about planning a living will in a positive way is less likely to produce a negative outcome. Bringing up the subject with your loved one can make him or her think more about mortality and aging, so how you manage the conversation will have a big impact. One good idea is to suggest you’ve been putting together your own living will and are realizing how important it is for everyone to have one. Ensure this doesn’t mean you expect anything to happen to your loved one in the near future, but rather that a living will is an important document for everyone to create.

2.Let Your Loved One Make Decisions

Once you’ve gotten your loved one’s consent to plan a living will, it’s important to give him or her ownership in making decisions. Helping your loved one put together a living will means being willing to accept his or her preferences may not be your own. It is your loved one who must be comfortable with the decisions for his or her life. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s choices, try to ask questions about why a certain choice is important to him or her rather than saying you disagree. Sometimes understanding why your loved one made a choice makes it easier to accept. Either way, it’s imperative to present the options to your loved one in an unbiased way and let him or her decide alone unless specifically asked for input. Your loved one needs to feel control over his or her life choices just as much as younger people do. 

3. Make Sure It Is Legal 

Since there aren’t any federal laws about the content and preparation of living wills, the creation is up to individual state law and what is legal varies substantially from one state to the next. While everyone hopes his or her living will won’t actually need to be enacted, finding out a decision is not legal but needs to be enforced could be a real problem. Before planning a living will, do some serious research about what your loved one’s state requires to be included to make it valid. It’s also not a bad idea to have the final draft looked over by a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of documents such as these. Generally, lawyers will look over documents and suggest corrections for a substantially smaller fee than for other services, especially when they don’t need to write up the document themselves. 

4. Inform Family of the Decisions

Once you’ve prepared a legal living will with your loved one, understand it won’t do any good hidden away in a safe deposit box. For a living will to be enacted, other people need to be aware it exists. At minimum, you will want to have your loved one place copies of the living will on file with his or her primary care physician, any specialists he or she sees, and the hospital he or she would use in the event of an emergency. Depending on your family dynamic, it may be easier to let family know about the decisions made on the living will ahead of time instead of trying to explain and defend your loved one’s wishes if something actually does happen. Everyone will listen more fully and with more understanding about the decisions your loved one has made when things are calm, so having a meeting after putting the living will on file is a good idea.

Though discussing end-of-life wishes with your loved one isn’t easy, it’s never too early to help him or her create a living will. In addition to planning for the future, you can help address your loved one’s current needs by hiring a caregiver from Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available 24/7 and are expertly trained to assist with a wide variety of daily tasks, including cooking, cleaning, and exercise. We also provide specialized Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care for Chandler seniors who need more extensive assistance. For more information on our senior care services, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 480.448.6215 today.