Art of Aging: Planning for the end of life

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. -- Planning for the end of life may be necessary, but talking about those plans with your loved ones can be very sad.

There is a new tool, designed to encourage those tough conversations.

It's called Compose Your Life Song.

"I'm just going to ask you a couple questions about how you have prepared for the future," said Beth Hilghman, daughter of John and Joan Steele from Collegeville.

And it's a free computer program developed by Home Instead Senior Care.

Beth said, "I've established a will and an advanced directive." "Oh yes, we have a will," adds John.

It asks a series of questions about everything from funeral planning to finances, insurance, and end of life care.

"Have you told your close relationship people that you love them?" asks Beth.

"Yeah, we tell you once in a while," laughs John.

For each answer you give, the program composes a note in what will become your life song.

Beth said, "When you're composing a song, I think it makes it easier than just coming out and saying 'Mom and Dad, this just has to be or what's going to happen.'"

The program has helped to spark frequent and candid conversation between John and Joan Steele and their daughter, Beth.

Granddaughter Meagen Chicano said, "They are able to let their wants and needs be known to my mother, they have made their plans for the future.

Joan said, "If you don't communicate, forget it. You have to communicate. It makes you feel better. A lot of things you can keep to yourself which is not right."

Compose Your Life Song also serves as a reminder that life is meant to be lived.

And for John and Joan Steele, their life song makes for a pretty good life.

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