Talking about end of life issues with a loved one who is already sick is difficult. Your loved one may not be thinking clearly, may be in pain, and everyone is likely to be very emotional. That’s why it’s important to have this conversation early, while everyone is thinking clearly. A plan is likely to be empowering for all involved.

A parent may be resistant to receiving care and having crucial conversations with you because she is afraid of losing her way of life, losing privacy, getting old, not having sufficient financial assets, being a burden, having her money taken away from her, being thrown into a nursing home and dying. You need to help her overcome this resistance.

One way of doing so is to ask questions:

  1. What kind of care do you want in the future?

  2. What is most important for you in your quality of life – is it length of life or making sure that you are able to do certain things on your own?

  3. Where is the money for your care going to come from?

  4. What are your desires regarding your funeral?

Prepare the family for having this conversation. Set a time aside for a meeting (preferably not during a holiday). Ask the questions and let the parent answer. If there is more than one sibling, have each sibling voice their wishes. If there are disagreements amongst the siblings, explain to the loved ones the consequences of not having things written down.

Hire only professionals to help you with drafting of these documents. A small mistake can cost untold hours of family grief later (not to mention thousands of dollars). And, most importantly, don’t give up. For the reasons mentioned above, parents are often resistant to receiving care and to talking about end of life. But what choice do you have? Just like they helped you when you were growing up, now it’s your turn to be patient and to continue to help.