For some people, conversing with their family about the rest of their life is limited to a safety deposit box that contains a will and possibly a burial insurance policy.
I would argue that you owe yourself and your kids a much more in-depth and nuanced conversation that addresses not only the end but also all the potential issues, challenges and decisions that could come up along the way.
4. How could/should your living arrangements evolve?
The desire of most Americans is to live in their own home throughout their last years is powerful and deep-seated. According to AARP, 90 percent of people older than 65 prefer to remain in their home. And 90 percent of people, if they had less than six months to live, would choose limited care at home rather than advanced medical intervention in a hospital or nursing home, according to a 1992 Gallup poll.
Their preference shouldn’t be surprising since there are a number of real benefits to living at home. You’ll spend your days in a familiar setting, surrounded by your “things.” You’ll remain near your friends and family, your social network, your neighborhood, your favorite stores and restaurants and places of entertainment and worship. And you’ll retain feelings of independence, control, predictability and self-esteem.
But your reality, financially/physically/mentally, may not allow you to stay in your home long term.
That’s why you and your spouse need to make a long-term plan now. The two of you should have a thorough and realistic conversation about where you want to live in your last years and how that be accomplished.
Then you’ll want to discuss with your kids whether you settle on living at home until the very end, moving to some form of assisted living, living with your kids or a combination of all of the above.
5. Who will advocate for your medical care, when you no longer can?
While Baby Boomers will live longer and healthier than previous generations, we also face unique challenges:
- As you age, your need for resource-intensive healthcare will increase
- The amount of public resources (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) may look different than it does today
- The number of primary care physicians is dwindling, while at the same time
- The number of elderly patients will increase exponentially, which will put enormous strains on the current healthcare delivery system
That’s why you and your family should start now to develop an assertive, proactive, thoroughly researched strategy to ensure access to an increasingly complex and constrained medical care system.
6. How can you take charge at the end of your life?
Obviously, most of us won’t be in a position to direct the process in our final days. But to ensure that decisions are made the way you want them to be, you should start now to prepare and empower your kids to take charge as you approach that final stage.
As a result, your final wishes will be met and your kids won’t have to live with the doubt about what you would have wanted.
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