Geriatric Care - The Importance of a Family Talk

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Mrs. Smith: Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast. Welcome to Age to Age. I'm Sally Smith. Let's talk.

We have with us today Mrs. Mary Peters, who is a geriatric care specialist and the president of Care for Life. Mary and I were having a wonderful discussion, and I said I'm not going to talk to my children about how I want it to be. I brought them up great, they're super kids, and they're just going to have to make the best decision. The way I am and the way that everything, and the way they're lives are, and they're finances and everything at the time a decision has to be made. So I'm leaving it up to them, and I'm not really giving them advanced directives, except that I don't want feeding tubes, and all those legal things you can write down. Now Mary, your reaction was no, no, no, no, no, that's a horrible idea, you have got to talk to your children about it. Pick a happy time and do it. Please tell me why you feel so strongly about that.

Mrs. Peters: Because it's better, and it's going to help them in the long run really know what you want. I mean, for example, do you want a pine box, or do you want a $28,000 casket? I mean, that's just, you know, a silly thing, but it's better they know all your wishes. And not just your power-of-attorney, but through your life, and all our lives, things are going to happen to us, good things, and bad things. And we want to share them with our children, and let them know how we feel about it.

Mrs. Smith: Well you know, now that you say that I can see that you can actually alleviate a lot of guilt by talking about it. You can say you know what, it's about life, it's not about death. Don't worry about it. I'm having a great life. I'm spending my money having a delicious time, rather than being in the fanciest place on Earth. So if it comes to putting me in something that isn't so primo I go into it willingly.

Mrs. Peters: But you know, you might not, or three of your children said I heard mother say such and such, and another one said well, we're not going to do that. So, you've got to keep your children together. You want to make sure your children do that, and you never know. My parents, I send them to Dennis Christianson to have all their estate planning done. And they made my brother health care power-of-attorney for finance, and I am health care power-of-attorney for health. And I am trustee for the grandchildren's trust. So, I have wondered- my brother and I love each other to death, get along so well. We both have kind of the same sense of humor, and would we get into some kind of argument about the ten foot dining room table, or the jewelry, or maybe something that doesn't have to do with the actual finance or something? So, it's just really good to have a talk. And my brother and I are planning to have a talk with my parents this week.

Mrs. Smith: Well, okay, that brings me to a really wonderful question. When is a good time to have such a talk?

Mrs. Peters: Well, actually a good time to have a talk is over a holiday, when everybody's together, and things are up and all. Easter time, Christmas time, when people come home to see their parents, that's a good time. We're having a talk because my father has had a lot of health problems, and has been in and out of the hospital, and my mother is as a caregiver kind of worn out. So we're not going to make them feel like a burden, and we're not going to tell them what to do. But, we're going to put on the table, what do you want us to do, mom and dad? How can we help you?

Mrs. Smith: You know that's so interesting you say that because they're all sorts of emotions and possibilities in a talk like that, and to give yourself the best chance at success by starting it in a positive way. I have friends that have had just hell

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