Action plan addresses end-of-life issues

Early and frequent discussions of aging issues, such as living arrangements, finances, dating, end-of-life decisions and driving, can save families years of heartache, tension and even legal battles. Yet, research indicates that about two-thirds of American families put off these conversations because they are uncomfortable with the topics or they just don’t know where to start.
Statistics show that 34 percent of adults surveyed are conversation avoiders. That is, they haven’t talked about any important end-of-life issues with their parents or children, or they have talked about just one issue.
To help, the local Home Instead Senior Care offices are sponsoring the “40-70 Rule” program, which includes an Action Plan for Successful Aging and other resources to help ease these conversations between adult children and their parents.
The idea behind the “40-70 Rule” is that by the time adult children are age 40 and their parents are 70, they should have these critical conversations that will impact the parents’ future, said Lois Etienne, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care offices serving Pierce County and the south King County area.
“Unfortunately, it is often not until a crisis happens that families consider these important discussions,” Etienne said. “Although the prospect of addressing sensitive topics can often be intimidating, it’s critical for these conversations to happen before it’s too late.”
According to recent research, 70 percent of family conversations about aging issues don’t occur until they are prompted by a health crisis or other emergency, Etienne noted. This can increase the likelihood of family disputes.
Etienne said she hopes earlier conversations can change that for local families.
“Quite often, when it comes to certain topics, there is a noticeable gap between the wishes of the senior parents and their children,” she said. “We want to help families establish plans in advance so that a parent’s expressed wishes are met.”
More information about the “40-70 Rule” program or a copy of the Action Plan for Successful Aging, is available at or at 253-943-1603.