Today, we are launching a 5 week series of blogs that together will act as a guide to help you discuss the future care of your senior loved one with your senior loved one.
Part 1 - A CAREFUL, TIMELY APPROACH
Part 2 - WHAT IF THEY GET DEFENSIVE?
Part 3 - SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Part 4 - DEFINING THE BIG PICTURE
Part 5 - ADVANCE PLANNING FOR CARE
The ideal time to talk with your loved one about future possibilities is before they show signs of needing extra help. Discussion tends to flow more freely, because participants view it as hypothetical and are less likely to feel criticized. During “What if?” conversations, calm minds prevail. “What now?” discussions happen as a knee-jerk reaction and often involves short-sighted solutions or stop-gap measures. After a substantial need becomes apparent, for example, emotions run high and people feel defensive. The tenor of the discussion can feel formal and intimidating.
But take heart! Even if you’ve postponed talking— and now your loved one has begun showing signs they need help— the discussion doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or somber. With some planning on your part, your loved one can
feel more at ease. Then they’ll be more apt to give you their honest feelings about what they want.
If you haven’t yet talked to your loved one about how they’d prefer to address future needs, the time is now!
Approaching the subject
· Practice wording that feels right to you. Do you have an “ice-breaking” phrase that feels natural and genuine? Roll it around on your tongue, say it out loud. Consider how to get your loved one engaged.
· “Mom, can we spend five minutes jotting down ideas about getting someone else to do some work in the house? I made us some tea.”
· “Mom and Dad, we wanted your input on a few things.”
· “Can I get your opinion on a couple of things, Mom?”
· “Hi, Dad. Can we talk for a sec? Here’s your coffee.”
CAREFUL using the word "Help"
Use the word “help” cautiously. Oftentimes, seniors don’t recognize their need for assistance or might be offended by the implication. Try saying, “I heard of a service that can send a lady to cook lunches for seniors. What do you think of that idea?”
REALIZE that you won’t have just one discussion to wrap up all the details. Start slowly. If your loved one appears startled that you’ve brought up the topic of their future, move on to another subject. Give them time to absorb the idea.
No one likes to feel cornered into talking. Plus, they might not share their true feelings if they feel forced to cooperate.
Next week's subject will address some techniques you can use to prepare yourself and avoid putting your loved one on the defensive.