Aging Options

Emotional Decision-making with Our Parents

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Emotional Decision-making with Our Parents ©

By: Eric M. Crozier, Geriatric Care Manager

I am entering my twelfth year in a career working essentially with seniors. I have spent many hours working with individuals, couples, families, and even dear friends of the aforementioned, all with the goal in mind, of helping them to reach safe and reasonable decisions. Typically, these are decisions that will not only effect the immediate situation, but also set the pace for needs and decisions that will arise further in their lives. One common factor that I can find in nearly all of my cases is the difference in making these decisions in the heat of the moment vs. preplanned and calculated. In essence, the concern of emotional decision-making.

I am quite certain that many of us can relate to a time when snap decisions were needed. As the crisis occurs and as the facts are revealed, so are the emotions; and those emotions are often stronger than the facts. Emotions are a natural, and essentially and unavoidable part of our instinctual thought process. As we have been shown throughout the years, the chemicals of our brain react to outside stimulus and often create a blend of responses such as those of joy, pleasure, pain, sorrow, and even confusion. Too often I have witnessed this situation in my career. One of the important aspects of my career is to help support, guide, validate, and even dispute these decisions. All too often, the effects of making life changing decisions can and should be avoided.

Preplanning can certainly alleviate much of this concern. Sitting down with those who will be responsible for making decisions about your health, finances, options on where to live, and overall needs to remain healthy, can only serve to ensure that when a crisis arises, your wishes, your desires, and your goals, will be acknowledged and maintained. It seems that in many cases, this is something that does not necessarily pop up around the dinner table or a casual visit. Often times, this is something that needs to be asked directly. I recognize this is not as uncomfortable as say, talking with your kids about sex, drugs, and the other awkward moments one might share with others, but it is nonetheless important. Your needs, wishes, desires, and goals for you, should be honored at a time when you cannot honor them on your own. Leaving these critical decisions for a moment when emotions are more relevant than the facts is a gamble.

Talking with your loved ones about Living Wills, Advanced Directives, and Durable Powers of Attorney are certainly vital in communicating the decisions you want known. There are many avenues by which one can obtain these documents and a little bit of research with friends, neighbors, coffee club members, and the like, will no doubt, point you in the right direction. It is also crucial, that you know your community resources that can also assist in organizing this process. There is no shame in asking for guidance and certainly don’t be hesitant in asking professionals. This process is not intended to be difficult or cumbersome, but yet as simple as you make it, by clearly spelling out what decisions you want honored. This is not the end however. Once this process is completed for you, it is vital that those involved in this process, fully understand and accept the responsibility. Having your plans clearly outlined does not help you, if no one knows what the plan is and furthermore, those individuals are not capable or willing to fulfill that role.

In closing, I will say that understandably, we simply cannot plan for every situation we may face. By preplanning while there is still the capacity and ability to do so, will make what crises that do arise, less difficult to navigate. Not only should our seniors be talking about this process with their children and loved ones… but the very same individuals should be asking these questions of our seniors. At some point someone has to ask the questions.

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