With the New Year knocking on the door, it’s best to accept its arrival with a clear mind and a clear heart. What’s something new you want to accomplish for 2015? Were there some priorities that got left behind last year? Is discussing an end-of-life scenario with your senior loved one, one of those priorities? It’s never too late to be prepared.
A national survey by The Conversation Project found that 9 in 10 Americans want to discuss their loved ones’ end-of-life care, but only approximately 3 in 10 Americans have actually had these types of conversations. Here is a guide to help you get through this difficult but essential conversation.
Gather Your Thoughts
Don’t go into this conversation thinking it’ll be over in five minutes. This kind of talk requires a clear and conscious mind in order to achieve any kind of result. You’re not going to get through it without a little bit of practice. Here are some hints so you’re not going in blind:
- Write it out on paper before you begin speaking
- Have a practice conversation with a close friend or family member.
- Know that you and your loved one may disagree on somethings. And that’s okay!
It’s also important to decide who else will be apart of this conversation. No matter the amount of people, you all should determine what topics to cover. Since every family is different that is up for you to decide, but it can vary from financial planning, to the type of care you want your loved one to receive; as well as, will the care come from the family or an outside employee? These are some of the not-so-fun to talk about yet very important topics you may want to cover.
Start the Conversation
There are many ways to begin the conversation. If you’re brave enough, jumping right into it is possible. However, it might throw your loved one off-guard and make them reluctant to talk about such a thing. One potential icebreaker is to bring up a story about someone you may know. Perhaps a close friend recently fell ill and was worried about their end of life planning. This will make your loved one realize that tragedy has no thoughts or feelings. It just occurs.
Once you begin the conversation don’t forget any of your talking points. That’s where it comes in handy to have it all written down. It’s not just an exercise in helping you remember everything, but it serves as a tangible reminder that you can keep in your pocket if you do happen to miss something.
Just remember to be patient, be kind, and be courteous. Speak slowly but with meaning. No one wants to talk about being incapacitated. No one wants to talk about the end of their life. These are scary topics that make everyone feel uncomfortable, but they’re important to cover for your family’s sake. A death in the family can unite it or separate it. Having this conversation will make sure the family holds strong.
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