An open conversation about end-of-life care

The holidays are quickly approaching, and families love gathering. This is the perfect time to have an open conversation with your family about the kind of end-of-life care and medical intervention you desire. Having that open conversation with the people in your life can be the best holiday gift you can give.

A Happy and Healthy Family Until…

Cathy and Mark are loving and close siblings who live in different cities with their own families. Their 80-year-old parents, Helen, and Norm, live in a small house in Atlanta and have had a cozy mountain house in North Carolina for decades. The extended family has enjoyed many holidays together at their mountain house over the years.

The Ballad of Helen and Norm

Earlier this fall, Norm fell and broke his hip and sustained a concussion when he hit his head. After his hospitalization, he was moved to a rehab center in Atlanta. Norm has not been recovering well physically and now has some cognitive impairment.  He will no longer be the strong and healthy man he was before the fall. Helen will have to make some hard decisions regarding care for Norm and is overwhelmed by the choices and costs especially since she never had to worry about their personal finances. Luckily, Cathy, an empty nester, lives in Florida and can drive to Atlanta to offer support to her mom during this incredibly stressful time. Unfortunately, son Mark lives in New York and has a busy life with work and family. Mark has felt terrible that he hasn’t been with his family to add comfort and help take care of the many details and decisions in person.

The Fallout

This is a very typical scenario that we see at Hurley Elder Care Law. This close-knit family didn’t take the time during their normal happy and hectic lives to deal with the potential of an unexpected medical crisis. Cathy and Mark never took the time to have conversations with their parents regarding their medical wishes or their financial situation and plans. Also, Norm never discussed his healthcare beliefs with his family so they are now at a loss trying to make decisions they feel he would want for himself. If Norm dies, how does he want his estate to be distributed? He likely would want everything to pass to Helen, but intestate laws  dictate that Helen, Cathy and Mark would all receive a third of his estate since he doesn’t have a Will.

Family Dynamics Can Cause Strife During Times of Crisis

Can you imagine what would happen in this situation if the family dynamics were different? What would happen if it was a blended family with strained relations or siblings who are always at each other’s throats? As evidenced in this article from AARP, having family conversations and putting wishes in writing before a crisis will help prevent disagreements and rifts between family members.

The Conversation Project

The Conversation Project is a public engagement campaign with a goal to have every person’s wish for end-of-life care expressed and respected.

You can find free and helpful workbooks and conversation starter kits at the website, At Hurley Elder Care Law, we believe there is really no greater gift to give your loved ones than to organize your wishes regarding end-of-life care.

The holiday season is a perfect time to have these gentle but important conversations with your family. Put this topic on your holiday agenda so your family can start the New Year feeling peaceful and prepared.

Contact Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121 to discuss what estate planning documents you should have in place to make times of crisis more manageable for your family.

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