Having "The Talk": Key Questions About End-of-Life Care

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Here are important topics to discuss with your family members and other loved ones concerning health matters, documents, finances, and end of life issues. Not only should you know their answers but also you should have the answers to these questions for yourself saved where someone can find them.

These questions aren’t just for your elders. These questions are for spouses, grown children, best friends – anyone you care about that you may end up taking care of and making decisions for in the future. Knowing the answers to these questions will free up an unbelievable amount of time, grief, and guilt for everyone involved.

  • Where are important legal documents located? This includes all information pertaining to your will and estate including executor name or names, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, HIPPA, Living Will, DNR directives, etc. This also includes Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers, real estate documents, car titles, and anything else you can think of.

  • If former military, what branch did you serve in, what dates, what was your discharge date and status, and where are your discharge papers?

  • Do you have a safe deposit box? If so, where is it located and where is the key to access the box?

  • Do you have a life insurance policy? If so, what is the company, account number, and contact information?

  • Do you have medical insurance? If so, what is the account number and contact information?

  • Do you have Long Term Health Care Insurance? If yes, what are the company, account number, and contact information?

  • What are your bank accounts as well as mortgage, credit card, and investment accounts? Include company names, account numbers, and contact information.

  • Where is a list of user IDs and passwords for all of your online accounts?

  • Who are your current doctors and what is the contact information?

  • What are your current prescriptions, dosage amounts, and, pharmacy contact numbers?

  • How do we gain accessibility to your home including the keys and security code(s)?

  • Who are your closest neighbors or friends that can be contacted in case of an emergency and what is their contact information?

  • If you need care, do you prefer a nursing home, private care home, VA facility, or other? Have you already made any arrangements for continued care? If so, what is that information and where is any documentation?

  • How should we approach taking your driving privileges away and making other transportation arrangements when we know it’s time?

  • If your home needs to be sold, do you have any specific instructions?

  • If you can no longer take care of your pet(s), what is the vet contact information and where would you like your pet(s) to go?

  • Stop all the drugs and preventative measures, only giving medication for discomfort or pain, when I can no longer _____________________________________________.

  • Do you want a funeral, in a church, a party, or a wake? Do you have written instructions and if so, where are these instructions?

  • Where will your final resting place be or where do you want your ashes scattered?

  • What is your religious affiliation (if applicable) including where you worship and a contact name, and number?

  • Do you want an obituary in a local and/or out of town paper? Have you written one already. If so, where is it? If not, what do you want in your obituary?

  • Do you want flowers for services or donations made in your name to your favorite charitable organization?

  • Are there specific persons you want notified upon your passing and what is their contact information including email addresses and phone numbers?

  • If not included in a will, are there special items you wish to go to specific family members such as furniture, photos, keepsakes, memorabilia, and more?

  • Name information and dates of all marriages and children you have had including divorce and death dates as well.

Last, for future family members more than anyone, ask your loved one the following questions and record their responses using the recording capability on your mobile device or computer.

  • Where were you born?
  • Tell me your earliest memory as a child.
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Who was your first love?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What was the best trip you ever took?
  • What was your first job?

The more you can ask and record, the more future generations will know about their family and past.

This list was excerpted from the book, Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine by Chief Caring Officer Dayna Steele.