In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to encourage Seniors to have a “heart-to-heart” talk with their immediate family members about their future “care wishes.” It is very important for any Senior to verbalize his or her preferences for how he or she wants to be taken care of. Otherwise, family members or “others” in charge of an elderly person’s assets make decisions based on what they think is best.

Think of this as an extension of a “living will.” If you feel strongly, for instance, that you never want to spend your last years in a nursing home, then say so. If you prefer to stay in your own home, with care, in place of going to live with your son or daughter, then state that to your adult child. If you prefer to die in your own home, then share that. (Personally, I do not want to spend my last moments on Earth in the back of an ambulance. Unfortunately, this happens to many frail elderly.) If you want Hospice at the end of life, then tell your family.

A good reason not to procrastinate on this “heart-to-heart” chat is that over 50% of Seniors past age 85 are no longer mentally capable of planning or implementing their “care wishes.” The reality is that none of us knows when a health crisis might occur.

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