We are in part three of a five part series with the goal of providing guidance to anyone considering or preparing for a discussion with a loved one about their future care -- understanding their wishes and carrying them out. This week we look at some practical tips for the having and starting the conversation.
SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
We are born with two ears and one mouth, so spend your time listening. Clear your head of your own expectations (“I know she’ll say this when I say that”). You might be surprised at how successful the dialogue can be when you make a point to actively listen. That means you’re not focusing on what your response will be when the other person stops speaking— rather, you’re distraction-free and fully present.
Take the walk in their shoes. In your mind’s eye, switch places with your loved one for a moment as you listen to them. Keep in mind that your aim is not to prove who knows more, or who’s right or wrong. Instead, you are exchanging ideas and gathering options.
Stick to wording you find genuine and relaxed. The subject matter might be uncomfortable, but you can put yourself and your loved one at ease with the right approach.
Find a quote about aging, and ask their opinion of it. Bette Davis famously said, “Getting old is not for sissies.” Ask your loved one about the determination and resolve they’ve called upon as they’ve gotten older. Let them know you acknowledge the courage the aging process demands of people.
Make a comment about aging. “All you see is how to get rid of wrinkles. Then they say we should all ‘age gracefully.’”
Ask your loved one how they’d define “aging gracefully”; you might get a glimpse into their thoughts.
Bring up the facts. Use a magazine that targets seniors; look for information on statistics and realities about that population. Ask your loved one for their insights on the articles.
Ask their opinion of common terms. “Mom, I’ve heard you mention that ‘coping well’ as you get older is important to
you. How do you envision that?” “Dad, you told me a while ago that you think a ‘good outlook’ is necessary for old
age. What do you mean by that?”
In next week's post, we will go over some specific questions to ask yourself and include in your discussion with your loved one.