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Preparing for the Death of a Parent

It’s hard to imagine life without our parents. They’ve been by our side forparent and adult child considering hospice all of the big moments of our lives. Yet, we know it’s something we will all have to face at some point.

While it’s natural to want to avoid talking about difficult topics like preparing for the death of a parent, being emotionally and financially unprepared only makes the situation harder. Even if your parent is reluctant to discuss the topic with you, broaching the subject before a crisis hits allows them to make their wishes clear.

Benefits of being prepared for the death of a parent.

Planning ahead for the death of parent will help ensure that your parent’s wishes are met and will save you and other family members added stress during an already difficult time. Some of the benefits of being prepared for the death of a parent include:

  • Empowering your parent to take an active role in their future and their legacy
  • The peace of mind of knowing you are fulfilling your parent’s wishes
  • Knowing where all your important documents are located before you need them
  • Avoiding legal entanglements over financial and healthcare decisions

How to emotionally prepare for the death of a parent.

As a parent ages or becomes ill, it’s natural to want to avoid thinking about losing them. But emotionally preparing yourself for a parent’s death can enrich both your life and your parent’s life.

Some ways to emotionally prepare for the death of a parent include:

  • Take the opportunity to tell them what you need them to know. Say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” while you have the chance.
  • Honor your parent while they’re still alive. Don’t wait until the funeral to share funny stories or talk about how much they meant to you. Include your parent in your reminiscing. 
  • Work with your parent to make a record of your parent’s life, stories, recipes, and favorite sayings. These can be recorded in a book or videotaped.
  • Find support. If you are struggling with anticipatory grief, speak with a grief support specialist or join a caregiver support group.

How to financially prepare for the death of a parent.

Making sure your parent’s affairs are in order can be empowering for them and save you and your family a lot of unneeded stress at an already difficult time. Having their healthcare and financial wishes spelled out on paper protects your parent and your family by ensuring someone they trust will have the authority to handle decisions when they are no longer able to do so themselves and prevents the often costly and time-consuming court proceedings needed to have someone appointed.

Some important things to put in place include:

  • An Advance Directive
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Will
  • A Plan for Funeral Arrangements

Keep copies of important financial and legal documents in an easily accessible place as you may need to refer to or share copies of these documents multiple times.

How hospice can help you prepare for the death of a parent.

The physical and emotional demands of caring for a terminally ill parent can be overwhelming. Hospice is care for the whole family, supplementing the care you provide your parent in addition to providing education and support so you can focus on making the most of your time together and creating meaningful moments.

Hospice care can be provided wherever your parent is residing whether that is your family home, an assisted living facility or nursing home. This allows your parent to stay in the environment where they are most comfortable where they can follow their own schedule without the distraction of beeping machines or invasive procedures.

Your parent’s hospice team will visit several times a week to manage symptoms in the home. In addition, the team can provide emotional and spiritual support, while volunteers are available for social visits and to give family members much needed breaks.

Each patient is provided with a comprehensive care plan with visits increasing as needed. The focus is always on honoring your parent’s end-of-life wishes and the best possible quality of life.

When to call hospice for your parent.

If your parent has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live, it is time to contact hospice. Families should also begin to explore hospice options if their parent has experienced frequent hospitalizations in the past six months, progressive weight loss, or increasing weakness, a change in cognitive or functional abilities.

Even if your parent is not yet eligible for hospice care, our team of hospice professionals can provide information and education on what to look for, so you will be prepared when the time comes and won’t have to spend time doing research when time is of the essence.

Please click the blue bar on this page to receive additional free information on what to look for and how to know when it’s the right time to contact a hospice professional.

End-of-Life signs by disease.

Learn about the specific end-of-life signs of common diseases and illnesses:

More end-of-life resources.