Holiday Preparations, Food, fun and more!

Cid just wrote a great post yesterday about the challenges for her of keeping up with all her holiday traditions as the progression of her Parkinson’s has gotten in the way of all she used to do and used to enjoy doing.

Living with a chronic illness and a progressive illness, as time goes on doesn’t have to steal your traditions or your memories or your opportunities to make new ones. But it’s crucial that you are able to talk with your family and friends and those you plan to count on at the end of your life. If you’re an adult child and are worried about a parent or a loved one, now is the time to plan on talking to them.

There are jokes a plenty to go around about what not to say at the holiday dinner table or while you are all together. But here are some things TO talk about:

*Who have you designated as your power of attorney? If you have chosen one child over another, tell them WHY. (Because they will definitely talk about it later)

Same with your finances -

*Share who have you chosen as your Executor. Do you have a trust? Is all your property and income in your trust?

*Share the name of your lawyer!

*Have you identified your wishes if you are incapacitated? Do you want full life sustaining measures? CPR? Would you want to be on a ventilator (Do you know what the success rate of these is?)

*Have you told your spouse what your wishes are? Tell your adult children!

*If you are have adult kids from a previous marriage, tell them what your plans are!

*Do you know how to use the Nevada Lock Box? (If you live outside of Nevada does your State provide a place to store these documents?)

These are tough conversations, but honestly, having those NOW can make things so much easier for you and your loved ones.

There are lots of great resources - and ask for help from a trusted friend, favorite relative, faith leader, social worker if you need to. Here are some resources that can help, too:

The Conversation Project

Understanding Healthcare Decisions at the End of Life

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Making End of Life Decisions: What are Your Important Papers

Pallimed: 20 Ways to Discuss Advance Care Planning with Family Over the Holiday

I’ve had these conversations. I had the conversation where I tried to tell my Dad he couldn’t drive all the way across the country alone anymore (well, with Mom but she was the navigator). I tired. Tried all my best social work tricks and ultimately, I gave up and called my Brother that night and told him “You’re up. I tried.” Our solution and offer was to take turns driving them every year back and forth from Florida to Wisconsin, which we did until Dad had died and Mom wasn’t driving, but did we make GREAT MEMORIES on those trips and laughed a lot and saw our beautiful country and saw old friends. The hardest part of the whole thing was getting through the initial conversation.

Ultimately, even though my Dad teased me in front of his friends that we had “made him stop driving”, they were all impressed that as his kids we had also offered to drive them! The teasing gradually and then quickly turned into stories about our adventures. It even started a #(hashtag) because my Mom was just so funny - and I realized I wasn’t the only one who could relate to some of these experiences. (Have you had a parent who reads ALL THE SIGNS?) #TravelsWithArdis would have never happened if we hadn’t had the hard conversation at the Holidays.

Have the conversation. Remember, it’s about love and safety and allowing everyone to live their very best life, together. To the very last minute. And that’s worth celebrating.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Holidays, and Peace.

Ruth Almén

love with whole self dying.jpg
Parkinson's Place