When the kids get a certain age, parents plan THE TALK.
When parents get a certain age there needs to be another talk.
I went to my 60-ish parents and asked them their wishes should they no longer be able to make their own decisions. I was motivated after my husband’s parents both became ill at the same time. My husband and his brother had to make big decisions without knowing for sure what their parents wanted.
When I talked with my parents I learned my mom wanted to get her hair done weekly and wanted to be clean. She had cared for elderly folks who had lost their hygiene rituals and that bothered her. She did not want to end up that way. My dad wanted to live somewhere that had good food. They also wanted to stay together and live at home as long as possible. Years later when faced with the challenges of helping them I tried to honor their wishes. When they began to act childish or unreasonable, I would say to myself, well Mom got her hair done and Dad likes the food. Then my self-imposed guilt trip would subside, a little. Knowing what they wanted did make my job as their caregiver a little easier.
To parents: It is not enough to have what you want written in a Will that may not be reviewed until after the funeral. End of life decisions should be clearly communicated to family members well in advance of life changing events.
Elderly parents may also want to create an “ethical will.” This document is a way to share your blessings and values with those you leave behind. There are websites with templates to help you. A friend of mine had a collection of favorite writings and poems he saved for his family. My Mom wrote out her funeral wishes and told me where to find them when needed.
To adult children: Have multiple conversations. Reassure your elderly loved ones you respect their wishes and will try not to intervene until it is absolutely necessary.