You love your mom or dad very much, and the thought of losing them breaks your heart – but you know that it’s important to have practical conversations about their end-of-life wishes long before the situation happens. This is especially true when you’ve been asked to be your parent’s medical power of attorney.
Combined with a living will, having a medical power of attorney in place so that you can step in and make any necessary decisions on your parent’s behalf if they’re incapacitated gives your parent more control, empowering them to leave this world on their own terms.
With that in mind, don’t merely accept the appointment without asking questions. No matter how well you think you know your parent’s wishes, you need to talk about things like:
What are their feelings about death and dying?
People have all kinds of different belief systems, and yours may or may not fully align with your parent’s. Make no assumptions. Find out if they want all possible life-saving measures, or whether there’s a limit to what they want to be done.
This may lead to a deep discussion about what your parent considers a worthwhile quality of life. This can help you address potential medical treatments like:
- Do they want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if their heart stops?
- Do they want to be on a respirator if they cannot breathe on their own?
- Do they want dialysis if their kidneys stop functioning?
- Do they want a feeding tube or artificial hydration if they’re unable to eat or drink?
- Do they want any life-sustaining treatment if they’re in an irreversible coma?
- How much do they want you to rely on their doctor’s guidance instead of your own feelings?
As painful as these things may be to contemplate, addressing them now can save a lot of heartache in the future since you’ll have a clear understanding of what your parent prefers.
These aren’t the only hard conversations you may need to have with your parent, but it’s a good starting point, especially if you’re helping them get their end-of-life plans in order.