Today, Corey is talking with Will Craig, owner of ELDR, a company that provides guidance on approaching end-of-life planning effectively.
ELDR's mission statement:
"We are on a mission to empower and equip people to conclude life smoothly and be remembered well. When you plan in advance of a health crisis, challenging events go more smoothly later, and your life becomes powerfully informed by the reality of its impermanence now."
Respecting Choices website
Peterson Institute for International Economics
About our guest:
Will’s life’s work can be summed up with one simple phrase: Propelling people’s growth to produce meaningful new outcomes. Nothing energizes him like helping someone clarify a problem and find their way to solving it.
He’s fulfilled this calling on a human-to-human level as a teacher, trainer, coach, and father. At the systems level, he’s served as a president, CFO, strategist, and founder. Will says his greatest strength is as a generalist. “I am highly adaptable and listen carefully to help people get their arms around a challenge, break it into bite-size pieces, then set to work with courage and a good plan,” he explained.
As a preacher’s kid, Will grew up in a household where our inevitable death was a regular conversation topic, so planning for it was a no-brainer. Since the subject is so comfortable for him, he can bring a down-to-earth, straightforward approach to his work with clients and end of life educators.
Will’s mission is to recenter the larger cultural conversation around death to make it more pragmatic, and something we prepared for in advance like other major life events. “When it comes to end of life education and planning, the need is great, but follow-through is sparse,” he said. “Clients count on me to bring my compassionate side as a strong listener, as well as my detail-oriented, strategic sideAssoc. Bodywork & Massage Professionals
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How do you organize a space party? You planet.
That's good. I'm going to write that down and share it with my family. That's going to set off a new rounds of us calling. We have an aunt named Janet, who we call Inter Planet Janet. So that's going to kick up another round of that.
Awesome. You're very welcome.
So please introduce yourselves to our listeners.
My name is Will Craig. I'm one of the founders of Elder, which is another life planning company.
So I know almost nothing about Elder, which was kind of on purpose. I skimmed your website, but I figure our listeners don't know anything either, so I'm going to be the listener today. So tell me about Elder and End of Life planning.
The background to know about our organization. Elder is
we on the founding team? Have each have had experiences with death? Some of those things have been positive and some of those things have been negative. But we knew that there was something that we had to contribute,
having gotten through the learning experiences that we'd had. And then we were looking at what would we name our organization? How do we tell the story of our impact with our name? Elder Elder is an acronym for End of Life Designer. And the idea is anything that you design is going to go better than if you just are approaching it by default and sort of accidental approach.
And it's got the you know, it's a homophone for Elder, which is a term of veneration from where I come from. An elder is somebody who can provide you with mentoring, who's been there and done that, that they've got some earned wisdom. And then the elder is also the or Old Norse word for fire. And we love the idea that we're lighting a fire under people to get their homework done and, you know, provide some illumination on the pathway.
Ultimately, Elder is an organization that supports people providing leadership in approaching end of life effectively. It's an early stage planning approach, meaning we know I think we all know the death rate is 100%. And we know that given that reality, if we're doing our homework much earlier before things get tight in terms of illness, before things get tight, in terms of not much runway left to the point of death, we can have the conversations if we can do the research, if we can do the documentation earlier, we just have that much more bandwidth emotionally, logistically. We have time to ask questions. Time to really look at options. So that's what Elder is all about, is getting to that planning, thinking really in a design stage rather than a reaction stage, which is often what happens for families. And then what happens is because some of the early questions haven't been asked and answered.
Late stage process of dying can be divisive for families as opposed to unifying for families. Because, you know, the opportunity of the sad fact of death is, you know, in the face of adversity, people really can rally together and be unified, but they need to have a vision. They need to know how to talk about things and, you know, work collaboratively. And if what we've got is high emotions and lots of opinions and not a lot of sort of cultural infrastructure to talk about it, that stuff becomes divisive and it's really hard on families. And then just, you know, one simple, one simple anchor point for me is, you know, no executor should ever be finding out they're the executor after the death has already occurred.
But it's it's surprising how often that kind of thing happens just because people people didn't have the strategic wherewithal or the administrative wherewithal or the emotional wherewithal to get into planning this thing, that is absolutely, definitely going to happen in each of our lives and in all of our families.
So all of that is the background for we incorporated a public benefit corporation, which is really set up to support professionals who want to provide end of life planning and to do that at scale. That's that's the that's the mission ultimately for elders, given everybody needs to get this done, regardless of their identity, regardless of their resources. Let's figure out how we scale this profession so that people have the guidance that they need to get through some of these bite sized steps that without a little bit of professional support, it's complicated, it's hard. And generally people aren't getting it done.
It's you said scaling. What what kind of scale are you looking at?
Well, one one data point that I like to cite is the United States has 25,000 wedding planners.
It's a profession. It's an established profession. Those are professionals that know what they're doing. They've been through the wringer of wedding processes that have gone beautifully and that haven't gone beautifully. Places where people did the math, didn't do the math, had the hard conversations, didn't have the hard conversations. So
I look at that and I say, okay, well, maybe you're getting married, but for sure you're going to come to the end of your lifetime and pass away. That's just what's going to happen. So the expertise of guidance and the scale at which it's needed, you know, I look at a number like, okay, in 2034, we're going to have 75 million Americans over retirement age now, and we you know, we can kind of be planners and talk about like, oh, I'm preparing for retirement and then then I'm done. Like, well, hang on a second. There's this there's an end point even to retirement.
And, you know, candidly, not everybody has the privilege of thinking that extensively about retirement because their financial cycle is more day to day, week to week, month to month, as opposed to, hey, I'm saving up hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars to cover a retirement. But all of us need to kind of have that long view. And
every person who's ever going to receive care in a health care institution, every person who's ever going to be, you know, covered by an insurance policy, every person who's going to, you know, rely on either family members or professionals for long term care as they bodily decline. Every single one of those people is at the end of that road going to die. So
that's what I mean at scale. It's just this is a fact that every single one of us
and then another place that, you know, I've learned to reference around this as a matter of scale is what it means for the workplace right now, which is there's a there's a study that was put out by the Peterson Institute that looks at at aging
and the ratio of people who were working age that's between 18 and 65 years old to retired in 1950 was 5 to 1 in the United States. In 2023 to 1. Hmm.
Now, this study was done in the light of what's that mean for Social Security. We've got these many people, you know, paying into Social Security and then these many people drawing out
2050. That ratio is projected to change to 2 to 1.
So what that means for Social Security is really meaningful. But I think about what that means on a day to day basis for people holding down jobs where, okay, in 1950, for every one person post-retirement who might need care from a family member or a professional, there's a 5 to 1 ratio. But now we're talking about in 2050, literally for every every one person in the workforce, like there's going to be, you know, one person who needs to be providing significant care for a family member and another one who isn't like that. That's our workforce. Yeah. And we're already paying attention to the pressure on child care. Mm hmm. But we're having the the the demographic shift. That means just as much pressure from an elder care perspective. And there'll be people who have resources and can throw money at that. And there'll be many, many, many families who don't have that privilege or those resources. And so, again, at scale of
human by human by human, we want to have a plan that cares for our family members, but also company by company, by company. Wow. You better have a plan for half your workforce, not only having child care issues, but elder care issues.
I often think about how strange it is that we do you think about child care and don't think about elder care and that there are so few steps between working and nursing homes? Like we don't have a lot of places for people to go that need help gradually and maybe don't need a ton of care, but need some care or some community or some something. And we're just not set up for that as a country. And like you said, people are getting the larger population is getting older and
what's going to happen with everybody.
So here's where here's where I can offer some inspiration. Or maybe it's just my personality to be aspirational versus like, oh, boy, the wheels of society are just going to fall off and it's going to be awful, right?
One thing that I've learned to do in my career as an executive coach, in my career as a teacher, in my career as a founder of a startup, as a leadership development expert, you can always bet on people's
ingenuity and creativity and problem solving, or at least their self-interest.
And so if you give people the tools to solve their problems or their support, they'll figure it out. And part of what I think we all have to understand is
we don't have to have a top down solution. We don't need, you know, a senator in Washington to, like, figure this out, create a policy and, you know, make, you know, manage every human household in the in the United States to get there. It's more of a bottom up solution.
We need to help people square up with, okay, this is my situation. These are the cultural features that I care about or my religious features that I care about. This is the financial situation we have. This is where I live and this is what's going on in my city or my town or my county or my state. What are the resources I have?
You know who has an extra bedroom in the family? You know, like there's that solution. Making on a household level is where the answer is going to come from. It's not just cause,
you know, there's like a cookie cutter solution that we need to cram every person, every family into. It's going to be a very
individualized, problem solving process that we just need to empower it, scaffold it, give it some structure. So I'm thinking I should actually explain what Elder does because I want to talk in the abstract here. So Elders approach to end of life planning in my. So one thing I haven't said yet is in my in my own father's process of dying in 2019, I could see how a number of the things that we had prepared really, really mattered. And I didn't even know we had prepared them. So a little background is my father is a Presbyterian minister, and so part of his leadership that I was, you know, just immersed in as a child was helping to mobilize people to complete their end of life planning because, you know, death was dinner table conversation in the house I grew up in. It was, you know, every weekend dad had a wedding or a funeral or a confirmation or whatever.
And he sat my wife down and me when we had our first child. And he said, Look, you're going to do an advanced care plan. Tell us your medical wishes. You're going to tell us, you know, what songs you want to play at your funeral. He just had his, you know, pragmatic checklist.
So I kind of thought that that was normal. I didn't know that that was unusual. Silly me. But so in in his process of dying, there are we'd had all the conversations. There was nothing in any of our documents that nobody didn't know about my sister and my mother and I. We had a very easy time being on the same page when there were some moments that he he couldn't speak for himself. He'd really done his homework. And of course, the end of his life was was sad. But we also knew what to do, and none of us had any regrets of, Oh, I wish I had done this or I wish I'd done that, or we had that friction. And now I don't trust my sister anymore, you know, we just didn't have that.
But I recognized that
that's that wasn't just some big monolith, mythic checklist. There are actually a couple of domains. Four of them that we work in with Elder. And if we don't handle those four domains, it's like four wheels of a car. If you have four inflated tires, you know, all aligned to roll in the same direction, like, okay, you can, you can, you can roll smoothly, but if you have one flat, you're going to be in trouble. If you have four flats, you're going no place. Mm hmm. And those those four domains are
legal and financial instruments. That's your will. That's your power of attorney, that's
understanding. You know, what your wishes are and having them documented. Another one, which is where we started our conversation earlier, It's. Well, you know, physical well-being. That's your housing. That's your medical care. Could be long term care in terms of, you know, ongoing illness. Another of the four quadrants is social and emotional dynamics. Who is going to be responsible for what? And then how do you feel about that? But one of the things that I always want to encourage our clients to understand and is,
you know, if there are three people, all of whom think they should have the certain responsibilities at end of life, like an executive role,
whoever's will it is, it's their responsibility to tell two of them, Look, you're not the executor and the other one look, you are the executor. Get them oriented to it. Because if two out of the three are surprised when things get, you know, really intense at the end of life, you've just set up all three of those people for, at best, breaking even on a really rough a really rough road.
But that you see how that's the social emotional work like just because you've put something in a document, had an attorney to help you, you know, make sure it's clear and you know, it's a sound document. There's the social emotional work of, you know, did we have the conversations? And then there's also room for things like legacy projects. And, you know, how do I want to be remembered? And, you know, is there something cultural or religious that I want to make sure I'm transmitting to the next generation? So being organized around those things. And then the fourth quadrant is what I call death literacy. It really is being prepared for death. One of the greatest gifts that my father gave that I didn't know until after he passed away was, you know, he'd already shopped through all the options and paid off the account for his cremation and that, you know, he chose cremation. So, you know, we went to the funeral home and the funeral director walked us through all of his choices and said, you know, he chose this, he chose this, he chose this. Oh, and it looks like we owe you $17 back because, you know, a couple prices went down and my mind just went because to me, that that should be what a funeral directors job is. That should be what my experience is as the, you know, next next generation.
But so often we are not setting up funeral directors for for success because they have that. If you if you haven't made those choices and paid the account like they're going to ask because it's a checklist of questions that they literally are, you know, that's their job to go through those questions, answering those three years, five years beforehand, when you can have a level head and make a plan, maybe even have some family dialogue, that's the ideal case scenario. And then we're setting up our funeral directors for, you know, the leadership in a hard time that, you know, they deserve the opportunity to, you know, run that ethical business and just be a steady hand through a hard time versus, you know, a criticism that sometimes people voice, which is like it seems like they're just trying to shake me down for as much money as possible or they're going to ask you if you haven't figured out the answer in advance to certain questions, but so that that death literacy includes. Yes, you're you're you're burial wishes or body disposition, but also things like memorialization, like, you know, let's give people some guidance around how you want to be remembered.
But those are those are the four quadrants. That's our approach. And you can hear like there's a lot of space for people's different interests or needs across those four different quadrants. Everybody's going to have different answers to some of those questions, but it's pretty much the same questions. You know, we are going to have a body that's going to be there after we've passed away. So, you know, what's our plan versus.
Now there's a.
Thinking, Well, it's funny. Like people think like, well, I don't want to put any pressure on them. I'll let them decide. Like, no, you're not doing them any favors.
That's that's a lot of pressure to defy.
That's more pressure.
Not less that they can't ask you.
So when do you suggest people start doing this?
The very best time is now.
And of course, you know, that's kind of a cute answer, but
the things that you get done with a level head, with time to research, discuss,
that's always going to be your best process. That's always going to be your best work.
And inevitably there are some conversations where, you know, it feels like ripping off the Band-Aid. Like, you know, I know my sister thinks this, but I really want this.
You could put off that conversation and never have it. And then there are fireworks later, or you could just get in there, hash it out, create alignment, or even get to that place where you just agree to disagree. But now you have peace of mind and probably that relationship's in a better place now for having had the conversation then like, oh, I'm you know, I'm losing that person in my life or whatever. So the peace of mind now actually is is a huge benefit to doing the work. And then one other one other background item for me is the growing field of green burial, which has a number of different iterations. And, you know, there's there's water, cremation, there's cremation, which is, you know, a direct to soil approach.
I'll say it this way when we don't research, do the legwork, find out the how, the what, the who well in advance for something that's non-conventional, you're just going to end up with something conventional. So if you're not looking at green burial solutions and having the family meetings about those things and whatnot, at least three months, maybe more like three years before time of death, you're just not you're not figuring that out on the day you're about to die or your family's not figuring it out the day after you died.
So if you're interested in those kinds of things,
anything that's going to be new or complicated, you got to get started.
I feel like there'd be a lot of logistics involved in that and not only in like body transport, but also is it legal in your state or is there anybody doing it in your state?
There's a lot going on in terms of policy. And so back to that topic of everybody's going to have their set. The their set of answers to the questions, sometimes some guidance even on all who do I ask? How do I find out is important. So our approach, by the way, with Elder is we play around with this number a little bit, but we have eight meetings with our clients, with the idea being, you know, first thing we want to do is get in there and sort of assess the situation and think running hot, you know, why are we talking?
Is there urgency? But also, you know, what are your priorities? What are your values? And then we go into the step of let's really get goals in place. You know what? But let's sequence our action and figure out what are the key themes that you want to pay attention to. And then it's let's roll up our sleeves. And this is really why we need eight meetings, because there's a bunch of stuff you got to get done. And then that last meeting kind of obviously that's for closure, just kind of wrapping up the process and figuring out, you know, what loose ends still, what might there be to get done. Typically, we have those eight meetings over the course of half a year. So we start out, you know, maybe meeting biweekly. But when people are, you know, going out and researching attorneys or, you know, a financial advisor or, you know, researching some options around burial people, they need time to go
do some research, do some interviews, talk with some people, choose options, which is why, you know, it it needs that amount of time so that
manage, manage it effectively.
So it's the elders job to get people through bite sized steps rather than be overwhelmed and, you know, never start.
Here's a stack of documents. Good luck to you. Go for it. Yeah.
Well, and I think you just sort of set up the insight for me in putting together our approach, which is they're actually amazing resources out there. There are old school PDFs that organizations have created. There are new school sort of digital organizers for end of life planning, either in advance or after death.
But information and tools themselves are useless. Applied information applied tools are invaluable. And so the Elders job is to be the professional. Like, okay, what book did you buy that's collecting dust on your shelf, or what digital account did you sign up for that you've only, you know, entered your phone number and your email but abandoned it. Let's get you through the utilization of the information you've got, the tools that you've got on offer and that bite size basis. And then, by the way, you know, with enough accountability of like, oh, I better show up to my next meeting. Having researched the three green burial options that are legal where I live, you know, that accountability cycle is is really important. And you heard me say that earlier, where it's like this is this is about leadership. It's about guidance as opposed to
information or even a checklist or a a tool.
The checklists are fairly convergent that you'll find out there. The question is, did we get our homework done? You know.
And as a person who's very into checklists and processes, there's a difference between checking it off and actually having it done, especially if there's something you didn't realize you needed to do to check it off. Like you said, I made the account and I put my phone number in and I have an email address and then I didn't fill out the rest of it or I forgot a really important part or there was something weird about the system itself that I just didn't know. And yeah, having someone to guide you through all that is invaluable, especially for something so sensitive.
So a funny iteration of what you just articulated is I've spoken with a number of attorneys, state attorneys, and I was amazed at the very consistent pattern that they would express to me as I was describe the service and start to create partnership with them. They would say, you wouldn't believe the number of people who will pay me the money to set up a trust. And then they don't do anything. They don't put the house in the trust. They just pay to set up the trust.
So they paid for a box and there's nothing in the box.
Yeah, but you can hear like, oh, they handled the financial administrative legal quadrant, but they didn't handle the social emotional of like, All right, let's all sit down and talk about what's happening with the house.
And they get gummed up in one quadrant and affects another quadrant.
And I have two flat tires.
Yeah, parallel for me was, was, you know, I did a really, really great advance care planning training with an organization called Respecting Choices. I highly recommend it. It's more of like a medical grade training. But, you know, so in particular for health care organizations that are interested in advance care planning facilitation, they're a great training. But as I was sitting in my training, I was thinking about like,
So when do we talk about the money? It's like talking through, you know, talking through these steps about people's medical wishes, excellent approach, scripted, data driven in terms of insights about how to conduct the conversation effectively. And there are people who are like, well, I'm not leaving my kids much money, so I'm just not going to say anything about what I want. Because, you know, if it were to cost more, I would feel terrible about that. So I'm just going to I'm just going to not do my advance care plan because I wouldn't want to be a burden like for our conversation point earlier. Like, the burden is that you didn't.
You didn't do anything to do.
Yeah, but so they're you know, they've got feelings about their financial picture, which then are crossing over to impact
their health care design.
So we have to have, you know, we had got we got to get those different quadrants understood and addressed
to be effective comprehend comprehensively.
I have a couple of questions from Calcutt here.
One of them is that lots of Americans are solo agers. So how does Elder help? Do you guys form? Do you act as a health care proxy or fill other legal or logistical roles that a spouse or child may deal with?
We do not step in in terms of taking on those types of responsibilities. What we're doing is providing a service to get answers to the questions. What we find again and again, I want to address two things. One,
the epidemic of loneliness is massive and important. So even just putting it into someone's design thinking like, all right, so how do you not be isolated? Like, oh, well, I could, you know, now you're problem solving because it's a, it's an item that is on the checklist that you need to address and that that the fact that it's there, take some of the weirdness that people might have. Like, well, I you know, I'm alone because there's something wrong with me or I'm alone because nobody loves me or I'm alone because my family abandon me. Like, well, hang on. We just have this checklist thing that, you know, life is better when we live in community. And for introverts, they don't need more of that than they want. But it needs to be a design item like, okay, how do you want this to go? And then the other thing is, and this is where the leadership factor comes in,
I want to say this sensitively, but I also want to I also want to address it like directly. People can get really kind of dumb about their options
versus creative and sort of problem solving in their mindset. So it's kind of like, well, I you know, I don't have any family nearby. It's like, okay, well, so like, who do you have? Like, oh, well, you know, I go to my, you know, my house of worship every week. It's like, oh, okay. So you actually have a community and there are people who, you know, and oh, you you've known them deeply for 25 years. Oh, okay. So maybe these are people that we could, you know, start to think about in a different light because they really are your social network. And just because you didn't give birth to someone who's now going to have some responsibilities because of that sort of genetic connection, that doesn't mean there aren't people around you where you could figure out like, okay, who's the answer to this universal question I have? Do you see what I mean?
Yeah, I, I feel like America has a weird obsession with nuclear families and deciding that all responsibility and family matters must be handled in your nuclear family. But, like, that's not a reality for a lot of people to just have that structure. But that doesn't mean you don't have family. It just means it doesn't look like that.
Go from so many there are so many choices that we have to make for people who we need to ask to have certain responsibilities.
And what you want to be choosing is the right person for the responsibility, not necessarily just the most obvious, like genes based choice. Yeah. You know, like if if you've got a family member who's, you know, you have a direct relationship with, but there's no way they're ever going to say no to a medical intervention to extend your life, even if that's not your, you know, your desired treatment course. Like, okay, turns out that's not the right person to be your medical power of attorney. Okay. Or your health care proxy.
Yep. So, you know, you got me excited in the way you were speaking. And I came in right on your heels there. But no, absolutely. But the default assumption. Yeah. That the default assumption of
this type, a family relationship or this type of family relationship. Absolutely not. We need to be design oriented. Mm hmm.
I also feel like that has a lot to do with the fact that we don't talk about death at all, or most of us avoid it assiduously. So if it's the thing you don't talk about, then all you're left with at the end when you're gone is probably the default option. And default does not mean best by any stretch of the imagination.
Absolutely. One other thing about being creative around sharing responsibilities in community as opposed to just that. Yeah, that nuclear the assumption that you just it's not being a taker when you tell someone, hey you're really important to me and I would trust you with this topic that's really sensitive. It's kind of intense to talk about, but you're really important to me and I trust your judgment. And I'd be honored and grateful if you would take on this accountability for me.
That's not being a taker. You just gave that person a gift.
And in the end, we're talking about, you know, maybe a couple hours of responsibility. I mean, some roles that could be administrative, Like it'll be significant, like being an executor. That's that's really taking on a significant administrative responsibility. But doing something somebody is health care proxy, like in the event of an you know, who knows how that's going to play out. And, you know, it's unlikely there are going to be a lot that they have to do. But, you know, you got to orient them. You have got to have meetings and you got to, you know, set up expectations. But that is a very light lift for a sort of a a powerful responsibility in your life. That's honestly, you're venerating them in and making the ask, not being selfish or something.
I don't like to say necessarily personality traits or types, but are there
advantages you look for in things like executors or power of attorney? Like when you tell people to look in their lives to fill these roles for things about end of life, who exactly are you looking for? So I have two siblings, I have two older brothers, and they're capable in lots of ways and they're not so capable in other ways, just like all humans. So I don't know that I would to give one an executor position because it would be so stressful for them that like they wouldn't handle it well. But I have a sister in law who's probably the most capable person I've ever met, and that wouldn't be such a big deal for her. So what kind of things do you tell people to look for in their extended family?
Think your illustration is perfect. I would just to keep it simple. I would look at two factors, just two factors. One is skills and aptitudes, and then the other one is temperament,
emotion, you know, sort of like the leadership side, you could call it right brain side of things and the left brain side of things, right. Like does this person actually have the skills to like, Right. Organize receipts, you know, throw some stuff in a spreadsheet and, you know, be comfortable, you know, pulling some people aside and saying, hey, look, this is the you know, these are the details. And, you know, administrative capabilities. And then the other one is, you know, are they going to be overwhelmed emotionally? Are they going to be floored by grief or are they going, you know, just what's predictable? They are uncomfortable because they like they hate conflict and there might be some conflict to have to navigate. You want to I think your illustration was really better than my my philosophical response. But there's the philosophical response. So who's got the skills as well as the temperament for these roles?
So we talked about executives and we talked about power of attorney and we talked about some medical stuff. Who else or what other roles do people need to fill for this kind of thing?
What I would say is, as you move through the quadrants, different people will start to recognize needs that they have. And it's useful. I think of myself as a professional nerd, right? Like it's it's useful to have the nerdy conversations to create some formality around things. Right. So just for instance, if somebody choose ing to stay at home in their current home as long as possible, it could make sense to, you know, let's say they're in their seventies and they're going to stay in a house. And it's a you know, it's a self-contained house with a yard and stuff. It could be useful, actually make an agreement with the, you know, the 40 somethings who live across the street and have two kids in elementary school or whatever to, you know, actually formalize like, would you be my people in the case of an emergency and, you know, just check in on me once in a while. Is that a you know, is that a role that an estate planner is going to make you clarify? Probably not. But if you're thinking about in that health and wellbeing quadrant, okay, how do I solo age effectively in this house for as long as I possibly can? What might be some formality around that process that would have me be effective with it?
So I think I think the design starts to tell you what the roles are that you're pushing.
How does Elder work if the person you're centering this around has something like dementia or Alzheimer's?
I would say I think three quarters of our use cases are actually the sandwich generation age
and they see either I've had some kids myself or I'm I'm responsible for a parent in decline. Maybe there's some dementia going on. Maybe there's an advanced illness of of a different kind.
And the interest or capacity for somebody who is approaching death isn't there to do this work. Mm hmm. Educating oneself as ultimately sort of the next generation leader or even just by association, it doesn't have to be, you know, generational
recognizing, okay, we're going to we're going to go through this stuff. I need to educate myself. I can go ask the questions. Having educated myself and taking myself to the steps as opposed to in 80 something with dementia is going to come for a series of Zoom meetings. Meetings express that that's not the model, that's not the model. But there probably is somebody who's advocating, recognizes the need and is going to use us as a resource to prepare those those for wheels of the tire so that they are functional and can roll
through some tricky territory.
I would say you asked me a question a while ago, which is, you know, when when's it time to do this? And I said, Now,
one of the things about dementia and some other some other illnesses as well is that they aren't sudden. There's there's a sort of a slow or at least a steady crescendo. And the earlier you do your thinking work or the, you know, the effort based work administratively, the earlier you do it, the better you're setting up for those later stages where you're really just not going to have the cap capacity either cognitively or in terms of energy.
So that's another reason why it's the sooner the better.
When I did my advance care planning, I decided to go ahead and do a full workup around dementia and cognitive decline just because I figured why not do the full meal deal Like I can answer these questions and then nobody has to figure it out when they're when they're navigating. He seems, is he full capacity anymore? Like, well, we already have the answers philosophically. Let's revisit them as we move through this process. But much better to be reiterating some work that's already gotten done, then I'm trying to do it from scratch on a you know, on imbalanced footing.
Yeah, the first time is always the hardest. So
doing it the second time later would be much preferable. A while ago we had to put my mother's dog down. He was very old and lived a great life and just got old as dogs do. But one of the things that the vet who came to the house to do it said was, Yeah, we like to do these things before a traumatic event happens. And that's a thought that I have now had for probably six months about the before a traumatic event happens, we should establish our choices and what that means for all decision making before everything has fallen apart and your arms and your family's a mess. And nobody certainly wants to make big decisions in that situation.
The early work streamlines the later work. My own example was being in a hospital corridor with my mother and my sister, and, you know, we sort of had a 15 second window of time to make a life or death decision. You know, the next treatment step. And while we were having that 15 second intense conversation, I was also having the thought, you know, I'm professional coach. I've done lots of relationship work just in terms of my professional development. I've had lots of conversations with my sister, lots of conversations with my mother about that, put our relationship into a better place. And so I was thinking as we were quickly aligning on this huge moment, thank God that like my sister doesn't hate me or that I don't my sister that might, you know, like I'm not in enough of an ongoing fight with my mother about money or something. Right. And I could just see, oh, the pre-work set us up for streamlined effectiveness now. And per your point, that's part of where the trauma comes in, right? Like if I'm already in a broken state with my my mother and my sister, it really does then become traumatic to have to have that 15 second conversation in the hospital corridor. And the source of the the trauma is that something that's already disjointed is pushing, is pushed further out of joint versus
unifying or galvanizing something that's already in a healthy state like, oh, okay, time to time to rise to the occasion together and we did it and our relationship is actually the stronger for it.
Is there anything I haven't asked you about?
Well, let's talk about I mean, I've talked a little bit about financial privilege. I've talked a little bit about religious differences and so on. But something that matters to me is I think everybody deserves a dignified death. And my personal vision really is once you accept the sad, the sad reality
and you can kind of get situated there with your heart,
then your intelligence, strategic mind can go to work.
I would wish that for for every individual, I'd wish that for every family, regardless of any of their identity factors or race, how they I in terms of gender, religious interests or disinterest their financial footing, this doesn't this doesn't need to be about money. It doesn't need to come from one particular set of cultural or religious assumptions. This really is a a human universal. So the way we approach it deserves to honor everybody and deserves to include everybody. And so that's our that's our approach is, hey, we've got these these we've got these four elements, these four quadrants that, hey, we all need to think about them. No assumptions on what anybody's answers to. The questions need to be are what their financial picture needs to look like or their view about care or their their you know, their view about climate change or, you know, any any of the factors that human beings love to politicize. Like, no, actually, let's let's get this done because it's an essential human truth for us to be effective with how we might be effective with some other ones. Gender, climate change, all the ones right I could generate. Let's be effective with this one, because if life's going to be complicated,
at least let's simplify it for how we end and get on the same page with our our loved ones and stakeholders as soon as possible.
Thank you so much. This was a great conversation. I enjoyed it immensely. I love people who have questions that don't need to have a specific answer yet. I guess I'm big on questions that don't have answers yet. So thank you so much.
Thank you for inviting me. I really enjoyed it. And I'll see you around campus.
Yeah. Yeah. All right.
All right. Take care.