“My best friend’s father just passed away, and she couldn’t find any paperwork about his funeral wishes. I don’t want our family to have to go through that headache while grieving. How do you recommend funeral planning with seniors? “ – Bethany from Sandy Plains

What an important issue you’ve brought up! Every family faces this situation, yet, we tend to be utterly unprepared for it, often because the idea of funeral planning with seniors feels uncomfortable or morbid.

If helping elderly loved ones adapt to the aging process has taught us anything, however, it is that having uncomfortable conversations can remove confusion and assumptions about your aging parent’s wishes while reducing stress and even strengthening relationships. These tips can help you with funeral planning with seniors to ensure you respect your loved one’s preferences.

Why You Should Care

Some families don’t mind waiting until a death in the family to plan a funeral, while others prefer a more organized approach. Waiting until you have lost a loved one leaves you in a difficult position to make complicated and expensive decisions while you are emotionally or physically stressed.

Remember, funeral homes are businesses that make money to survive. If you haven’t had a chance to research expenses or consider what your loved one wants, funeral directors can step in to make suggestions or handle decisions for you. These decisions may not always align with your budget the way you would like.

The average funeral in the US currently costs between $7 to 9,000, so you can see why planning matters. With funeral planning for seniors, you can compare prices, create a checklist, and research other benefits for veterans or through insurance policies that can reduce costs without sacrificing a respectful and dignified funeral.

What To Consider

Planning a funeral with your loved one takes much of the worry and guilt out of an already emotionally difficult time. Talk with your senior to see what instructions they have, and either record the conversation or take notes. Here are some questions to ask when funeral planning with seniors:

  • What kind of service do you want?
  • Where do you want to hold it?
  • Do you prefer burial or cremation? Is there any other alternative to think about?
  • Do you have spiritual practices you would like incorporated?
  • What music or readings would you like during the service?
  • Who do you want to include as an attendee or participant?
  • Who should deliver your eulogy?
  • How do you want your epitaph to read if you want a headstone?

This conversation does not have to be formal, long, or more detailed than a basic framework unless your senior has a lot of information to share. It may be wise to have a caregiver or other trusted family member join in to verify that your loved one’s funeral plans are what they want.

Look online or ask your aging life care manager for a funeral checklist you and your family can use as a guideline to ensure you have thought of every scenario. In fact, an aging life care manager can assist your family with this conversation or extensive funeral planning with seniors.

How To Create a Plan

Once you’ve talked about funeral wishes with your senior, you need to take that next step to document it. Write down a clear plan about everything, including preparing your loved one’s body, holding a ceremony, and making internment arrangements to honor what your senior envisions.

Some families go the extra mile to have it notarized or give a copy to a trusted friend or attorney to know how to access it when the time comes. Other families store it with their loved one’s will or upload it on their computers to take the physical paperwork out of the equation. If you share the responsibility of funeral planning with a sibling or cousin, consider making sure involved family members have a copy to prevent disagreements after your loved one passes.

Why You May Want To Wait on Prepayment

Here’s another tip we want to share with you: just because you plan a funeral in advance does not mean you need to pay for it in advance. Prepayment packages may include services that your family does not want. What about the possibility that you or your loved one may move? Planning a funeral in one state does not mean a funeral home in another state will honor that arrangement. Your family may want to set up a separate account with funds to cover funeral expenses when needed instead of tying up money on a pre-arranged service you no longer need.

Don’t put off funeral planning with seniors for a better time; there’s no time like the present! The peace of mind you, your loved one, and the rest of your family can have with a funeral plan can give you freedom in your loved one’s final days to share your love and memories, not worry about the logistics of what comes next.

Good Luck!


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