Why Is It Important to Discuss Death and Dying With the Elderly?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

It is important to discuss death without elders because it gives them an opportunity to express their wishes and plan for when the inevitable happens. But, the conversation can also being families closer and prevent future family feuds.

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Speaking about end of life may be uncomfortable for some people but it is important that our elders have this conversation with either family, friends or even care givers. This will allow the elderly to express their feelings, fears or even wishes and most important of all, appreciate life moments!

It is important to approach this discussion with utmost care to avoid causing worry to the elderly. Family members can do it but practitioners such as nurses and caregivers can also provide this service for the elderly.

Should We Talk About Death And Dying With The Elderly?

Yes! Having a thorough discussion about death and dying is important for following reasons.

Bring family and loved ones closer

To begin with, discussing about death and dying brings families and loved ones closer. The elderly person may express the kind of activities they wish to undertake or make memories which reveals more about their personalities.

This conversation is extremely intimate as they share their hopes and fears. It is through this that family bonds get stronger as the elderly can feel the connection live a life full of positivity and are no longer alone.

Express their wishes

Through this conversation, they make their wishes known. For example, they may or may nor want to live in a nursing home or assisted living center. They may or may not want to live at home. They may prefer a large funeral or just a small family memorial.

Having this conversation where the elderly make known their wishes also gives the loved ones enough time to make preparations such as find out best doctors or lawyers depending on the important issues at hand. This will allow for the family members to plan ahead in terms of finances to ensure the elderly are well taken care of. They can make the necessary arrangements to pay for a nursing home. Thy can begin researching assisted living homes in preparation for their elderly loved one moving in.

The loved ones also are prepared psychologically on how their lives may change if an elderly choses to spend their last days with the family rather than an institutional setting.

Prevent family feuds

Families can also prevent family feuds after passing away of a loved one if they have the conversation about death and dying. An elderly may be advised on how to write a will and the importance of writing a will during these conversations.

A will spells out a loved ones wishes and instructions after life ends. It is through this opening up that family can learn about accounts held by the elderly such as social media accounts, emails and what happens to them after they are gone.

Make informative choices on how to spend their last days

The elderly also learn about the options they have with their bodies after they pass away such as organ donation. We have seen quite a number of the elderly donating their organs while others volunteer their bodies to science. This is made possible by understanding the various options one has even in or after death.

Ensure proper planning socially, financially and psychologically

It is also important to discuss with the elderly about death and dying to ensure there is adequate planning of finances. The elderly has the power to make all choices such as where they will live, the kind of treatment they will receive and who will take care of them. These discussions impact our elderly with knowledge and understanding on the quality of life they will live and after how things will be after they are gone.

Why Is It So Difficult to Talk About Death With Our Elders?

Why do we shy away from this conversation if it has its benefits for everyone involved?
Most of the time, it is about the fear we have in ourselves and the emotional turmoil it takes to discuss death with our loved ones.

If death is near, we often wish there is something we can do to prevent or postpone the death. But in cases, such as those of terminal illness, all we can do is provide hope, alleviate fear and show love and family support as our elderly go through life.

What Can Be Done to Make This Conversation Easier to Have?

There is probably never a right time to talk about death and dying but it should be done early enough when one can make decisions on their own so that their wishes will be granted. Having conversations earlier in life also ensures that their requests and wishes are honored after they depart and the loved ones have an easier time as they carry out a loved ones wishes too.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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