By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
Imagine not being afraid to think and talk about death. What difference would that make? Most likely it would mean that we each have a clear idea about what we want our end of life to look and feel like. For example what life-sustaining treatments we would like to receive if we were unable to speak for ourselves, and where we would like to spend our final days. Not only that, but our loved ones would be aware of, and respect, those wishes.
The number of Australians aged over 65 continues to grow, and that means that more than ever it is important that we confront our mortality and become comfortable talking about our final wishes. Did you know that 70% of Australians have never had a discussion about end of life with their loved ones and that over 70% of us die in hospital, yet many would prefer to die in their own home*?
Too many of us are dying in a way not consistent with our values or wishes. Perhaps because we don’t know enough about what life-sustaining treatments look like when we agree to being kept alive at all costs (e.g. what will the quality of life truly be for a frail 97 year-old after they receive CPR and spend multiple days hooked up to tubes and machines in ICU? Worse still, if they don’t survive the trauma, if that how they would have wanted their last days spent?), or because we haven’t discussed our wishes with those who may need to make tough decisions on our behalf. Planning ahead means we have the opportunity to communicate what we do and don't want at the end of life.
If you’ve been putting off this conversation, this is the week to be courageous and start talking with the people who matter most to you. August 8 is Dying to Know Day - an annual day of action dedicated to bringing to life conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement. Talking about death doesn’t bring it any closer - it’s about removing the taboo that surrounds death and planning proactively.
Don’t know how to start having the conversation around death and dying?
- There are many great resources available on line, and two excellent websites to visit are www.dyingtoknowday.org and www.thegroundswellproject.com
- Use Dying to Know Day as the ice breaker and have the discussion now, while you are well, so that your loved ones are relieved of having to make the tough decisions at a critical and highly emotive time
- If nothing else ensure that you and your significant other(s) have current and valid wills in place
Creating a retirement you will love to live involves planning and taking inspired action – don’t be afraid to include your end of life wishes in these discussions!
If you gained something from reading this article you may also like to read I'm Terrified of Retirement and Retirement and Marriage - Two Peas in a Pod or Not...
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