Our lives go through various stages that require planning and preparing for special events and milestones. First time parents prepare for the arrival of their little bundle of joy by getting the nursery ready, deciding what type of child care will be needed and some people have even been known to get their unborn child’s name on a waiting list for private school. Later on, we are preparing for marriage. Think about how much planning and thought goes in to the festivities of that very special day. Later on we plan for retirement. Where do we want to live, have we saved enough money?
The one thing we do not do a good job at planning for is our elder years. Consider this, we may have a last will and testament along with a power of attorney, health proxy or living will, but have we sat down with our loved ones and discussed important issues about how we want to spend our twilight years?
When social security benefits were created in the 1960’s, the average lifespan was 72. With the average lifespan reaching well into the 80’s, there are many more elders in our population and many families experience difficulties not only with their elders but with their loved ones in making decisions for the care and lifestyle for the elders. Most often, caregivers are not in agreement and that leads to litigation or in some lucky cases, they will come to mediation to work out these difference of opinions. How wonderful would it be if everyone involved came together and openly discussed a plan? This would allow the elder to be part of the decision making and also would allow them to be treated with dignity and respect. After all, isn’t that what we would all wish for? So here’s my advice, find the right time and have a chat with your elder loved ones and anyone who would be involved in their care and decision making. Do it before the actual immediate need presents itself so you and they are not under any pressure. It’s simply a conversation.
Here’s a checklist of some topics to be discussed:
- At what point should the elder no longer drive?
- When should the elder not be traveling any longer?
- If the elder can no longer live on their own what would be their preference for living arrangements? Stay home with help if possible, assisted living, living with a loved one?
- At what point would the elder need help with paying bills, keeping track of important documents?
- Are all of the estate documents in order?
- Where are the estate documents located?
- Have burial arrangements been made? If not, what would be their wishes?
Roseann Vanella is a Professional Mediator & Founder of Advanced Mediation Solutions located at 3804 Church Rd., Mt Laurel, NJ 08048 856-669-7172 Additional offices located in Philadelphia PA & Langhorne PA