Holidays an opportunity to talk to loved ones about late-life decisions




Posted on November 21, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 21 at 6:26 PM

DALLAS -- A week ago, when 83-year-old Natalia Rucobo was brought to the hospital, her daughter thought she was having a stroke.

"It was very scary," said Julie Glover, Rucobo's daughter. "I didn't know what was happening, and I thought this was going to be it. I was very scared."

When doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital asked Julie Glover about live-saving choices, she knew the answers because her family had talked to their mother years ago about the decisions.

"The holidays are a great time to deal with some aging parent issues that a lot of people do not want to deal with," said Katie Dickinson of The Senior Source. "But when you talk about the talk, it's something all the children need to be involved in, and that is a good time to do it."

Dickson said there some key subjects to gently broach with aging parents, including:

• Is there a will?
• Do you have an advance directive for end-of-life decisions?
• Is there supplemental or life insurance?
• Where is everything kept and who has the passwords and keys to obtain the information?
• How would you feel about a nursing home?

Starting the conversation can be very tough. The Senior Source created a guide to addressing these issues over the holiday that we've linked to below.

"You could broach it by saying, 'I'm sure you have some ideas of where you'd like to continue living, of what you would like to be your life if you're no longer to take care of yourself. Unfortunately, I don't know what those things are. So perhaps you can tell me what your wishes are,'" Dickinson said. "It needs to be done very non-confrontationally, because none of us like to talk about it. But it is something that needs to be brought up."

Dickinson suggests planning the talk out in advance with siblings, and experts say avoid having the talk right after the celebratory holiday meal.

Julie Glover said knowing in advance her mothers wishes was a weight lifted from her shoulders.

"So when we got here and the doctors asked me what to do, I knew what she wanted," Glover said. "I didn't want to do it. I knew that I didn't want to let her go. But this is what she wanted, and I had to respect her wishes."

Natalia Rucobo is still very weak and suffering from infection-related confusion. But her daughter knows that whatever happens now is in God's hands -- not hers.


Advice for talking to seniors about late-life decisions