Often, we don’t like to think about the future and what it will look like when we aren’t part of it. Me neither. But that day will eventually come. We have all seen families who are torn apart by decisions, or indecisions, that are made when the people left behind argue about “what Mom and Dad would want”. If I could inspire you to take one action to help those you love, it would be to answer those questions for them. No guessing.
April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day. You’ve heard the expression that you can’t avoid death and taxes. Once you have finished your taxes, it is time to complete the second project.
Here is my checklist to help you. I call it T.H.A.N.K.S.
Talk– Have a sit-down conversation about what you want your end of life to look like: tell the family your wishes. Don’t assume that they know.
Health Care Power of Attorney – Who will make your medical decisions when you can’t? People often assume that spouses and children can automatically do this, not anymore. Just naming them doesn’t help. It must be official. Get a form from your doctor’s office or the folks mentioned at the end of this article. Fill it in, discuss it with your HCPOA. Get the signed form on file with your doctor. If it is needed, the doctor can pull it up in seconds, rather than your family rummaging through your files.
Answers – make a list of where you keep things, what accounts you have, what insurance policies are there, where is your will/trust (hopefully not in your safe deposit box), who is your lawyer? Give a copy to your executors.
Name a Financial Power of Attorney – someone you trust to help with your finances. If your abilities fade, the tools would be there to continue paying your bills.
Kind of funeral – do you want to be buried? Open? Closed? Cremated? It would be nice if the family has a clue what your wishes are.
Share – with the family. Don’t treat it like a taboo subject. It is life. Include all the children in the conversations so there are no surprises. One child shouldn’t be explaining what “Mom wanted”. Everyone should know what Mom wanted because it has been talked about.
Would you like help? The Outagamie Caregiver Coalition is having several sessions on Tuesday, April 12 at the Kimberly Municipal Center, 515. W. Kimberly Ave., Kimberly.
They will have information, resources, forms, and hands-on support to help you complete the necessary documents. Bring the kids along and talk. If you have already completed your documents, bring them in to review and consider if it is time to update them. There are several sessions: 9am -10:30am, 1pm-2:30, 5:30-7pm. No reservations are needed. Just come. Contact the Outagamie Caregiver Coalition at 920-460-9955 if you have any questions.
What a gift. Someday, our family will need these things. They will readily find them, and they will say T.H.A.N.K.S.