CHICO – Home Instead in Chico, a home care company, offers a free, local resource to help families start difficult conversations about end-of-life decisions with their older adult loved ones.
The resource is called Elderscopy, a humorous name for these conversations since there are so many procedures that end up with oscopy as we age, such as: B. colonoscopy, culdoscopy, laparoscopy, mediastinoscopy, peritoneoscopy and thorascopy.
“It can be easy to avoid discussion and planning for the later stages of life,” said Lakelyn Eichenberger, gerontologist and advocate for Home Instead. “Shunning things that are important can not only endanger the health of an aging loved one, but also create discord and discontent in the family. Starting the conversation is the first step.”
Nathan Vail, owner of Home Instead, says it can be very difficult to talk about these end-of-life decisions.
“Nobody wants to feel old and nobody wants to lose their freedom,” said Nathan Vail, owner of Home Instead, a business at 2639 Forest Ave. Suite 110 which opened in 2001. “And talking about dying is difficult. They feel like their lives are over.”
Home Instead provides home care with non-medical help with home care such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc.
Company advisors speak to adult children and their parents or other family members. Vail said it’s important for adult children to have these conversations around the time they turn 40. He said it’s important to use the right language when communicating with loved ones.
“It’s important to use the word ‘we,'” Vail said. “Like ‘We’re worried about your driving’ instead of saying ‘You should stop driving’. Children will say, “Don’t drive anymore,” and their parents will find that offensive. Put the emphasis on yourself.”
Often, Vail said, adult children are late in having these conversations, and their older loved ones end up hurting someone while they’re driving, or ending up with bumps and dents on their cars. He also said it’s important to talk about finances, even with elderly parents or loved ones, before it’s too late. Vail said older adults sometimes write a check for any expenses that come in the mail without checking who they’re giving their money to, and they end up wasting money.
“In our industry we meet people way too late and their parents waste money and get scammed. They pull out their checkbooks for everything that comes in the mail. There is a scam called Granny Scam. Someone will say, “I’ve been arrested, I need $3,000,” and they’ll wire money, not even to their own grandchildren,” Vail said.
Vail said older adults would say they’ve been driving for 80 years, but driving at 80 is different than driving at 18 or 25.
“These are difficult conversations, but it’s important to have them at the right time,” Vail said. “We are always a resource.”
Vail said it’s easier to talk about plans for after someone dies than what’s going on right now. Everyone knows they’re going to die and people don’t hesitate to talk about it, but these are much more difficult conversations and important to have.
“Sometimes you have to authorize a power of attorney. You can’t wait until it’s too late,” Vail said. “So often when I meet families, the parents are a danger to themselves. We are happy to advise you in any form. We help people talk to their parents and decide when they should. “These kinds of conversations can be very awkward. People would rather talk about sex than not driving anymore.”
Some of the other issues that counselors discuss with older adults relate to medical events, such as whether older adults want to be resuscitated when they go into cardiac arrest.
“It’s important to act on behalf of parents,” Vail said. “Nothing is worse than seeing that your parents are unable to do things and you cannot help them. It’s incredibly important to have these conversations.”
Vail said when adult children turn 40, that’s the time to have that conversation with their parents.
“People are always welcome to call us and we will visit them,” Vail said. “We make house calls. It’s good to have a professional with you when you talk to your parents.”
Vail loves his work.
“It’s very rewarding work,” Vail said. “When we go home at night, we feel like we’ve changed the world.”
Obstacles, such as family communication, can stand in the way of aging well. The Home-Statt website states that there are three ways to start a successful aging plan.
Visit www.homeinstead.com/elderoscopy for more information.