Three Tips for Talking to Your Parents About End-of-Life Decisions

Having the talk about end-of-life decisions with your parents is no simple feat, as no one wants to think about death. However, planning for the end of your loved ones’ lives can safeguard their well-being and put your mind at ease.

Knowing exactly who your parents want making important decisions for them, how they prefer to be laid to rest, and who they want to gain ownership of their most precious belongings after they pass makes the process a lot easier for you and assures your parents that their wishes will be seen through to the end.

But how do you initiate this essential yet emotional conversation? Use these three tips to guide you as you start the talk with your parents.

  1. Take it one step at a time.
    Think of initiating the talk as learning how to swim or run a marathon. Help your parents get used to planning end-of-life decisions by slowly introducing the idea a little bit at a time. For instance, don’t begin the conversation by recommending that they start thinking about funeral planning. While this is an important step to securing a solid future, it may be better to start by suggesting they consider planning their finances.

Once they get comfortable with this and realize that planning ahead provides them with peace of mind, you can carefully bring up other factors, like where they want to live after retirement. Knowing whether they want to downsize, move to a retirement community, or hope to live with you or a relative will help everyone involved make plans to ensure a smooth transition process. After a while, you’ll have planned out all aspects of your parents’ lives without unnecessary stress or pressure.

Start the talk in a familiar environment where your parents feel comfortable.

Start the talk in a familiar environment where your parents feel comfortable.

  1. Make your motivations clear.
    Your parents know that you have their best interest in mind. However, it’s a good idea to be especially careful about making your intentions clear when you first recommend planning end-of-life decisions. Emphasize the fact that your motivation for initiating the talk is their safety, quality of life, and well-being.

Make sure your parents see that by initiating the talk, you’re trying to ensure that everything they want is taken care of when they’re no longer able to voice their wants and needs. Another important factor to point out is that while their health and happiness is the primary goal, failing to plan these decisions ahead of time can have negative impacts on you and your family. This will take the spotlight off of them and allow them to focus on preparing their futures for their loved ones.

  1. Meet resistance with health concerns.
    One way to know that it’s time to begin the talk is when you notice your parents’ health is declining. If you’ve found that they’ve recently had trouble with tasks like paying their bills, fallen victim to scams, experienced difficulty with their memory or started skipping their medication, it’s in their best interest to begin laying out a strong foundation for their futures. Everything from their retirement savings to their funeral preferences should be established. However, many adults fail to do this, as almost 30 percent of households with occupants aged 55 or older in the U.S. have absolutely no retirement plan or savings, according to a 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office. This can cause serious problems for all adults, but especially for those who are ill.

Talk to your loved ones about how their health statuses are concerning you and how you’ll help them create a sustainable future now. Then they can sit back and relax knowing their finances and end-of-life decisions are in the hands of people they know and trust.

As funeral arrangements are a crucial part of this process, the National Cremation Society makes funeral planning stress-free and affordable with a simple prepaid plan that meets your loved ones’ needs and over 40 years of experience assisting people lock in their final wishes. Visit our website today to find out how to get started.