For children and parents, end-of-life planning is a taboo topic, but one online campaign is trying to change that.
Clayton Basi, Community Education Manager for Home Instead Senior Care, said the Compose Your Life Song initiative is meant to start conversations between seniors and adult children about end-of-life planning. According to Home Instead, seniors are more comfortable discussing these plans than adult children, with 89 per cent of seniors surveyed by the company saying they were comfortable with it, while 68 per cent of adult children could say the same.
“It’s difficult financially, it’s difficult emotionally, it can be difficult because of the relationship between the child and the adult,” said Basi. “Sometimes it’s not peer-to-peer, it’s still parent-to-child.”
The initiative is based on a free online tool where users complete a simple yes or no quiz about how they’ve planned so far, such as establishing a will, checking off an item on their bucket lists or mending a broken relationship. Once the questions are answered, there is a shareable audio/video representation which represents the user’s preparedness level. It’s a tool built for social media, so it’s meant to be a modern conversation starter. There are also links to resources for more information on end-of-life planning.
Alistair Hicks, owner of the Greater Victoria Home Instead office (which provides non-medical, in-home care for seniors like meal preparation, bathing, and errands), said in a press release that end-of-life planning is more than just funerals and financial plans.
“While the vast majority of seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too,” said Hicks.
Basi said one helpful guide is the “40/70 rule.”
“If you are 40 years old, or your parent is 70 years old, it’s time to start the conversation,” said Basi. An online guide provides tips on how to have a respectful and mutually beneficial discussion.
Basi said it is important not to wait until a crisis or illness to discuss these topics. Beyond that, he recommends talking to experts like financial planners, care facilities if appropriate, and others.
“It’s much better to start the conversation now and reduce stress and financial challenges later,” he said.
To compose your own Life Song, visit caregiverstress.com/end-of-life-planning/compose-life-song/my-song-canada/