Dec 05, 2008
Years ago, when my wife I announced to her parents that we were expecting our first child, my father-in-law inquired innocently if it was okay to talk about someone being pregnant. He had been raised with rules that made that conversation out-of-bounds. My, how things have changed! These days we need only to turn on the TV to be subjected to conversations about PMS or flagging male libido.
In this time when “anything goes,” I have been surprised to find that there are still some taboos. As an elder law attorney, I facilitate discussions about life, death, and disability—not an easy task because nobody really wants to talk about his or her own death.
Oh sure, people can consider that they are probably going to die…someday. But in their heart of hearts most people can’t believe that they are actually going to die. How else do you explain the fact that 85% of the adult population are without a simple will, power of attorney, or health care directive? The most obvious answer is that they must not truly believe that they’re going to die.
Although it’s difficult, I recommend that you take the time during the upcoming holidays and family gatherings to have what we call the Final Arrangement Conversation with your family. A Final Arrangement Conversation should have at least two distinct elements:
When I begin this conversation with clients and their families, I almost always run into resistance. Seniors (even terminally ill seniors) often say, “I don’t care. Funerals are for the living, so do whatever you want.” But families really want to know how their loved ones feel about these issues. When seniors choose to talk about it, they often find it very meaningful to share their expectations. Once we overcome this conversational taboo, the discussion almost always ends with a hug.
“We would be lost without Law Elder Law! We walked in their doors over a year ago feeling lost and confused. With a father/father-in-law suffering from Alzheimer’s, we were overwhelmed by the Medicaid process, selling his home, protecting the assets he worked for his entire life, and finding him a memory-care facility that we could trust as his new home.
Law Elder Law helped with all of it! From the minute we walked out of our first meeting, we knew we (and he) were in good hands. We could not have possibly navigated all that had to be done without their expertise.”
A.M., Client of Law Hesselbaum and Law Elder Law