Walking the Walk…. How I Finally Put My Money Where My Mouth Was.

October 2, 2017

I have all kinds of advice for caregivers. My business is devoted to offering help and support for those who are caring for seniors. I am passionate about my business and have spent countless hours researching ways to improve these peoples’ lives. I believe that caring for a senior, especially one with whom you have an emotional connection, is incredibly hard work. Yes, it can be rewarding but it is also frustrating, scary, lonely, and exhausting.

I tell caregivers (and seniors) what steps they can take to make a home safer, how to find a doctor, the best way to talk to each other, what living arrangements are available, the list goes on. Possibly the most important thing that I do is to provide advice and support for end of life planning. I strongly encourage everyone who will listen to have a plan so their loved ones will know what to do when the time comes, so there won’t be questions, confusion and disagreements. If you plan then everyone wins. You can voice your wishes and your loved ones know what those wishes are and follow them as best they can.

Guess what? For all my talk, I had never planned for my own end of life. Why not? I can’t give you one particular reason but I think denial is among the top 5. I didn’t really want to think about it until I was challenged to do just that. I needed to “walk the walk”. So, I did…….

The first task was to decide what was the most important information for my family to have. I chose the 5 Wishes document (available for download online) because I felt is best addressed what survivors need to know.

Task number two: filling out the document. This was incredibly hard. I had given some thought to what I wanted to happen if I were in a coma with no chance of recovery and what I wanted done with my ashes. We had even casually talked about it as a family, but putting it on paper was saying, “I will die one day.” I struggled with the statements regarding when life support would be removed……what if the doctor was wrong? What if there was a chance I would make a miraculous recovery? I had to take a breath, thoroughly read the statement, and answer the way I thought best. Then there were the sections asking how I would like to be remembered; what I wanted my family to know. Tears flowed as I tried to put into words some of the things that had been left unsaid until now.

Task number three: giving the document to my family to read and keep in a safe place until it was needed. Each of them reacted differently. My son teared up, hugged me and told me he loved me. My oldest daughter cried and then asked me to clarify some things (she keeps me honest). My youngest daughter couldn’t finish it, saying it was too sad to think about. She will look at it when she needs to. My husband cried but didn’t offer any comment. He doesn’t like to think about this stuff either, although he did agree that he should write down his own wishes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was emotional, humbling, and scary but I do feel relieved. My family and I had some conversations that may not have otherwise happened. They feel some comfort knowing how I would want my life to end if I were not able to tell them. I feel comfort knowing that they have a blueprint and won’t have to question whether my wishes are being met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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