That Thing We Don’t Talk About
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The 200 pound gorilla in the room”? It’s a phrase that refers to a topic that nobody talks about, but it dominates everybody’s thoughts. Everyone knows the gorilla is there but nobody gets anxious because, after all, you don’t want to upset the gorilla.
There is a 200 pound gorilla in the room often when time is being spent with our senior loved ones. It is a topic that is blatantly pertinent to anyone in their golden years. It is a topic that nobody talks about because it’s too upsetting or nobody knows how to talk about it. It is a topic that weighs on the mind of your senior loved ones virtually every day. The 200 pound gorilla in the room is death and the end of life issues that are ahead for every senior at some point or another.
As a caregiver for your elderly parents, you should be aware how heavily the topic we don’t talk about weighs on their minds. If you have lost one parent, the surviving spouse is even more aware of the issue. There are many reasons to remove the stigma from talking about end of life issues with your elderly parent, particularly about those topics which you must reach some decisions before that time actually comes along.
Some of those decisions include:
- When the time comes, where do they wish to spend their last days? In the hospital, nursing home or home?
- Who they wish to spend their time with? Immediate family, extended family and/or friends?
- If they have a Will, where is it at?
- Do they have an Advanced Directive and a Medical Power of Attorney?
- Where do they keep their insurance documents and other financial documents that you, the executor of the Will or the person who has power of attorney will resolve.
- Have they made funeral arrangements?
Talking to your senior loved ones
To prepare to discuss the end of life and issues related to death, you will have to be at a point emotionally that you can deal with the topic yourself. Many of us bury our thoughts of death. We tend to avoid it, even though doing so will not save us from having to go through this part of life.
Those who are depending on you including your aging parents and your children may be looking to you for answers. It will take some courage but facing the questions head on will help your parents and children face them.
Remember to always talk “with” your loved ones, not “to” them. Let them be involved in the decisions while they can be. What they view as a good end of life, may not be the same as what you view. Open discussions about this will not only put their minds at ease that their wishes will be carried out, but it will put your mind at ease, knowing you don’t have to make those decisions alone.
We don’t always get the time to have these discussions once the imminent end is near. Talk about death, while they are well. Just because they aren’t bringing the topic up, does not mean they are not thinking about it. Death is very personal, and each person should be at peace, knowing that things will be as they wish them to be.
When speaking to your loved ones about death, remember that there will be need for physical comfort, support of their emotional needs, spiritual reinforcement and assistance with tasks.
Don’t let the 200 pound gorilla stay in the room. Confront the issue of death with your aging parent or parents and do so with compassion and kindness. If you do, you will help your parent reach a place of peace and acceptance about what is going to happen that will benefit them for the rest of their golden years remaining.
If your parents wishes are to remain in their homes, Guardian Angels of Home Health, Inc. can provide End of Life Care. For more information about End of Life Care or if you would like to set up a no obligation free assessment, contact us at (215)295-6200, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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