With Gene Wilder’s death, the family released a statement that revealed to the world that Gene Wilder had died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The family also stated that Wilder had not wanted to reveal his diagnosis earlier and risk “one less smile in the world.” In releasing the statement as they did, the family has provided us with a few valuable lessons about planning.
- What should ‘the public’ know? From the statement, it seems clear that in receiving an irreversible diagnosis, Wilder’s family talked about how to handle the news both publicly and privately. Families that have received terrible news of a terminal or debilitating illness are aware of the difficulties surrounding such information. Questions about who should be notified are common as well as discussion regarding how much information should be disclosed. In addition, the ‘public’ for each person is different. This means for some only immediate family members while friends, neighbors and colleagues have a less detailed picture. Immediate family may include certain close friends and may very specifically exclude others. What about professional advisors? How much information should they have? Each of us has various circles and those circles have to be evaluated to determine who should know and what should be known, which is important to clarify to avoid confusion in the dissemination of information.
- What is the care plan? Certainly from a medical perspective there is a prognosis and then treatment plans that are outlined with various degrees of outcomes and complications. But what about the plan to care for minor children, if necessary? Or a caregiver spouse or partner? Who are or will be the caregivers? Has respite care been discussed for those caregivers? Are there modifications to a residence that are needed? What about access to financial information? Should such access be limited or restricted? Has there been discussion about involving a care manager? These are just a few of the questions to consider to determining the plan of action.
- Your final moments. Are friends and family present? Is music played? Is a spiritual leader, such as a priest, rabbi or pastor present? Will the final moments be at home, wherever that may be at the time? The final moments are not only for the person dying, but the family and friends who are part of that passing. Discussions such as these are key in determining end of life care.
- How to be remembered? An earlier article outlined six questions to ask surrounding the details of how you want to be remembered. Providing some information about wishes and desires regarding a funeral or service is a relief for family members because decision-making at this difficult is clouded by emotions and shouldn’t be overshadowed with the thought of “Is this really what was wanted?”
Thus, as many of us remember Gene Wilder and the various roles he played in the movies, we can also pause to reflect on how we would face such tough diagnosis with our family, and when the time comes, be prepared to have the important conversations. #GeneWilder #incapacityplanning #estateplanning #advancemedicaldirective #livingwill @bgnthebgn