Could this give you peace of mind about your parents and their health? 19

The Tough Stuff


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Watching our parents age brings a mix of happy and sad emotions. We don’t want them to get old, nor do we look forward to it for ourselves, but it’s a simple, inevitable part of life. The trouble is that so few people want to talk about what happens when we reach that stage; what decisions we might have to make; what we truly want for ourselves and our loved ones.

Last week we asked our Starts at 60 community how you all felt talking about death. Interestingly, about one in three people said they didn’t want to discuss it. It’s a topic that makes us uncomfortable because, simply put, it’s unpleasant. The reality, however, is that it’s vital for us to address these uncomfortable topics with our parents and loved ones before it’s too late.

To help us have these conversations, and to help make the necessary decisions, we have MyValues: a free, not-for-profit online service that can quickly, effortlessly ensure you and your loved ones are prepared for a worst-case scenario.

This service can record your wishes so that, should you ever be unable to communicate, this information is clearly locked in for your family members and medical professionals who may need it.

Dr. Charlie Corke, Intensive Care Specialist for Barwon Health, founded MyValues out of recognition that doctors and family may not instinctively make the decision you prefer.

“Others really struggle with the decision unless they have a good idea of how you think,” he says. “In practice, it is just about impossible to make a good decision without knowing what the person themselves values. We need to think about it.”

“Modern medicine makes it much harder because there is so much we can do that often only ends up making the end more complicated”.

His advice to families is simple: “don’t be scared”.

“Most people have already thought about their end, even if they don’t bring it up. The main decision is always likely to be how far to push things before accepting and permitting death.”
“In this context, knowing that someone wants the Collingwood anthem playing as they are dying really doesn’t help much.”

Explicitly writing down your values, even privately, can help us solidify our own beliefs.

“Most of us have lived with lots of uncertainty and ambiguity”, says Dr. Corke. “This is just a natural part of being human.”

“Despite this most of us have some things which we hold to quite firmly, where we won’t compromise. These are the things that tend to drive us and which explain the sort of person that we are. This fixed bit is important to understand.”

So what is stopping us?

Dr. Corke believes it’s the simple human nature of believing, maybe naively, that we will always be in control and able to decide for ourselves.

“This is wrong. Most people are beyond communicating when there is a need to decide whether to let death take its course or to do everything possible to stop it.”

“The second error is thinking that it will be fine to try every treatment possible until it has all failed. The fact is that we have so much at our disposal means that this approach inevitably leads to a very complicated and technological death, one that is the opposite of what most people say they want.”

Though whilst denial and avoidance of a difficult topic is only human, MyValues provides a free, safe and personal way to start thinking about these issues, giving you the extra peace of mind about the future of your parents and loved ones.

Learn more at


Have you faced dilemmas about your parents’ health? Do you feel comfortable talking to them about their plans and their wishes? If not, what is holding you back?


This post was sponsored by MyValues. It was written as we feel it provides the Starts at 60 community with valuable insights into an important topic. Please visit the MyValues website to learn more.

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  1. My son and I have discussed what should happen if I became so ill that I was not able to tell anyone what I wanted to happen.

    He knows that I don’t want my life prolonged, just for the sake of being alive.

    He understands that quality of life is more important to me than just simply extended life.

  2. I would hope that families do discuss wishes. It is very important to have an updated Will an appointed Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive. Not just for the elderly, for everyone over the age of 18 years.

    3 REPLY
    • The Advanced Health Care Directive is a legal document, having a doctor who knows your wishes is not enough, there is no guarantee in an emergency that this will be the doctor treating and even if it is they are ethically required to sustain life, so without this document in place wishes are not able to be carried out.

      1 REPLY
      • Documents help but getting family to respect and advocate for these wishes is also really important. Knowing values helps families to feel confident to follow wishes rather than to doubt them when a crisis occurs. Getting a GP to endorse wishes is important to convince other doctors that wishes are informed and considered. The best planning involves all these components.

  3. Have spoken to my daughter, my husband is Peter Pan, never going to get old, will never die and doesn’t need to talk about it.

  4. This is a huge issue! I would like to share but it,s too touchy at the moment! X

    1 REPLY
    • It is never too touchy. I suggest you try the my values survey and share it when appropriate. I see so many who delay sharing wishes until oo late.

      Best wishes

  5. I have a pre-paid funeral & an Advanced Care Directive. I live in a retirement estate that will provide help if needed in my 2BR cottage. So pretty sure I have it all covered. It was hard getting my mum into a nursing home so don’t want my daughter having to go through that.

    1 REPLY
    • I also live in independent living unit at retirement village and my mother is in hers not far from me. I also shopped around and have a pre-paid funeral. I found there are many ripp-off’s in this field. My children know my wishes and I trust them to make decisions as set out in the legal documents of the AHCD and EPA.

      1 REPLY
      • I am pleased to hear you have completed a directive and talked to your family – but we created MyValues because we have found that there is not enough in most ACPs to help families adhere to wishes in a crisis. The pressure is huge and they generally crumple. The narrative and clear nature of MyValues adds to everything else and provides adequate confidence to ensure wishes get followed. I suggest you consider doing MyValues even if you think you have made things clear.

  6. Jims brother had a massive heart attack a couple of weeks ago, after coming home from the funeral I realise I have a lot of paper work to do . Just keep putting it off.

  7. My Mum is nearly 90 and although she lives independently it’s a worry for me. My siblings live outside of the region and can’t help much or at all. She won’t go into a care facility I know that would be the end for her and she would just hate it. I’ve tried talking to her about her final wishes but she won’t have a bar of it. Just refuses to discuss the subject. To the point I feel bad bringing up the subject. She has a will and an EPA/AHD in place.

  8. Some people are not comfortable talking about dying others are ok we need to respect that!

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