Why Blended Families Need to Prepare for End-of-Life Decisions

Warning for Blended Families!

Casey Kasem

Photo by: Alan Light

Discussing end-of-life healthcare preferences is crucial for blended families. The recent death of 82-year-old radio personality Casey Kasem demonstrated the tumult that can arise when adult children and a stepparent disagree over the medical treatment decisions for a loved one. Unfortunately, their dispute became fodder for the TV shows and national news.

If you are part of a blended family, you and your loved ones can be particularly susceptible to the risk of battling over end-of-life healthcare treatment choices for a loved one. Family dynamics will be amplified and emotions will be raw in a medical crisis. In the absence of clear instructions for a loved one’s care, disagreements can brew and might explode.

You can protect those you love from painful conflict by proactively planning with these three steps:

1. Write your advance directive

Make your future healthcare wishes known. Express your desires for medical, emotional, and spiritual care if you are ever unable to speak for yourself or make your own choices. Write thoughtful instructions that can support your decision-makers.

2. Choose your healthcare agents wisely and explain your choic

If adult children will not be involved in the decision-making for your care, let them know now, and explain why. Don’t make your current spouse have to defend her or his decisions for your care to adult stepchildren. Conversely, if adult children will be authorized as your healthcare agents, explain your rationale and make peace now with your spouse regarding this choice. Leaving your adult children to argue with your spouse just isn’t fair to anyone.

3. Have the family conversation now

Have a family meeting. Share your wishes with those you love. Additionally, if you feel you should be the primary decision-maker for end-of-life treatment choices for your parent who has remarried, voice your concern in the present—instead of waiting for the crisis. Your questions might serve as the catalyst for your father or mother to write his or her healthcare directive. As important, if you have stepchildren, talk with your spouse about who should make treatment choices if healthcare decisions are required in a crisis.

Be a leader. By modeling this behavior when you write and share your own healthcare directive, you could inspire every adult in your family to communicate his or her end-of-life healthcare preferences. By breaking the silence and starting the conversation, you’ll be a hero to those you love most.

Casey Kasem left us with great memories of America’s Top 40. However, his greatest yet unwitting contribution might be the story of how the end of his life unfolded. Though tragic, it has stirred our national consciousness regarding the value of planning for end-of-life healthcare decisions.

If you are part of a blended family, have you begun family conversations about future healthcare decisions?

QUESTION: If you are part of a blended family, would you please share your story and inspire others via social media? Please share this post with your comment.



Have you chosen your healthcare agents? Do you feel confident that your agents are willing and ready to advocate for your wishes?

This FREE guide will help you to choose, invite and prepare your healthcare agents for future medical decisions that might be required. Interested?

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1 Comment
  1. I so agree with this proactive stance on making end of life decisions prior to the event. As an RN, I’ve experience the heartbreak of families torn in two because no clear plana were in place. The initial discussions can be awkward and uncomfortable, Yet, the payoff in the end is priceless. When a plan is in place, it makes it easier for each family member to know the wishes of the person, and takes the burden off of all, because the decisions have already been made. Family members can then navigate their roles with clarity.

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