Colonoscopy or End-of-Life Planning? Many Americans Would Prefer the Physical Examination

CHARLESTON, S.C.  – Many people, especially those 65 and older, postponed routine doctor appointments during the pandemic. As older adults are reconnecting with their communities, including addressing those overdue medical check-ups, aging experts are encouraging they add another “probing” exam to their to-do list: the Elderoscopy. Rather than a physical examination, this is a discussion. An Elderoscopy is a critical conversation between older adults and their loved ones, examining wants and needs and setting intentions for topics such as end-of-life plans, finances, relationships and more. Unfortunately, for some, making these tough decisions and documenting wishes can be just as uncomfortable as a medical procedure.

Research from Home Instead, Inc. and The Marist College Poll shows that 1 in 6 Americans would rather have a colonoscopy than simply talk to their loved ones about end-of-life plans. When factoring in age, nearly one-third of Americans over the age of 70 (29%) would prefer or are undecided when having to choose between a colonoscopy and discussing end-of-life plans.

“We see these conversations between loved ones happening every day, and rarely does someone say they wish they put it off longer,” says Shannon Carithers, owner of the Home Instead office in Charleston. “To support local families, we have resources available to ensure a smooth transition of care – regardless of whether it is needed now or in a few years.”

While these conversations can be daunting, there is good news coming out of the pandemic. The survey also revealed that while 45% of Americans report that they have not talked with their loved ones about how they would like to spend their final years, the pandemic has increased the likelihood of having these conversations. Nearly half (48%) of all adults report the coronavirus pandemic has made them more likely to talk about end-of-life plans.

To assist in navigating this process, Home Instead developed Elderoscopy, an educational program with tools to start the conversation between aging parents and loved ones about preparing for their later years. While an Elderoscopy is not an official medical procedure, it is an important step for older adults and their loved ones. Resources include conversation starters and guides. Home Instead care professionals also are available to facilitate uncomfortable talks between families.

An Elderoscopy can help families track their progress in planning for the future. Areas covered in the examination include: where you would like to live out your later years, what lifestyle you desire as you age, how you plan to stay healthy as you age, what to do if you find yourself single, what to do if you can no longer drive and what you want your final years to look like for you and your family.

Loved ones can start the conversation simply by asking a question such as “what things would you never want to give up in your forever home?” Or “how would you feel if you had to give up driving?” As you move beyond the conversation, you will begin to map out a plan that works best for you and your family. For example, if an older loved one desires to age in their own home, you may consider aging pitfalls and updates needed such as adding a stair lift or upgrading lighting fixtures. If giving up driving will be difficult for an older adult, you should be prepared with other solutions like rideshare apps or family members willing to step in as a driver.

To help plan your own Elderoscopy, families can find resources at www.HomeInstead.com/Elderoscopy. For more information on personalized care provided by local Home Instead offices, visit www.homeinstead.com/state/ to find an office near you.

Honor and its Home Instead network are expanding the world’s capacity to care. Founded in 2014, Honor is the world’s largest home care network with the most-advanced care platform revolutionizing how society cares for older adults, their families, and Care Professionals. Honor acquired Home Instead in 2021, and the combined company supports the work of more than 100,000 Care Professionals across 13 countries and meets the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide. For more information, visit joinhonor.com and HomeInstead.com

Elderoscopy: 6 Questions You Need to Answer to Age Well

1. Where would I live to live out my senior years?
Do you see yourself in a granny pod near your son or in a downtown high-rise? Most people have an idea where they would like to age.

2. What lifestyle do I desire as I grow older?
What will you be doing at 70? Rocking grandbabies or sailing the Pacific? Bucket lists are as individual as the authors who create them. Some older adults aspire to visit faraway places or launch second careers. Others prefer the quiet company of family and friends. Make sure your financial plan can support the lifestyle you or an older adult desires.

3. How do I plan to stay healthy as I age?
Staying healthy can be hard work, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Even small changes in diet and exercise can pay dividends. Consider today whether the choices you or a loved one has made is leading to better health.

4. If I find myself single, what will I do?
Will you look for love on Silver Singles, or embrace your newfound alone time? Many single older adults have happy and satisfying lives alone. Others miss the love and companionship of a spouse or significant other. Have you thought about what you would do if you became single later in life?

5. How do I see myself getting around if I can no longer drive?
Nothing expresses independence more than driving. Many older adults are driving safely; some are even Uber or delivery drivers. Losing this privilege, or being asked to give it up, can be upsetting. Consider when you or a loved one would need to adjust driving habits or give up the keys altogether.

6. How do I want my final years to look for me and my family?
End of life can be such a sobering issue that many people put off planning for the inevitable. It is not only important to plan for someone’s funeral but also the days, months and years leading up to it. Having these discussions earlier can help to prevent last minute decision-making during a crisis while also ensuring you or your loved one lives life to the fullest until the end.


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