Communicating advanced elder-care plans with your loved one may seem like a daunting task. Don’t worry; you’re in good company. According to a national survey conducted by The Conversation Project, 90% of people place high importance on talking about end-of-life care with their loved ones, while only 27% report actually having had the conversation. As with anything else, effective communication requires practice and above all, empathy. Here we have compiled 5 tips to effectively navigating the sensitive topic of advanced care planning
1. Hold an in-person meeting
An in-person meeting with all relevant stakeholders ensures that everyone has the chance to equally voice their thoughts concerning the goal ahead. Here you should also take the time to define and set expectations. Everyone can uniquely contribute to easing your loved one’s transition. Perhaps certain members feel they can best contribute financially, while others feel more comfortable lending emotional support and quality time. The initial meeting simply acts as the stage to better flesh out every member’s roles.
Of course, aligning the schedules of so many individuals, some perhaps across the country – or even the world – can prove equally as daunting as the task at hand. We suggest broaching the topic informally well in advance and leveraging holiday seasons to decrease the chance of conflicting obligations.
2. Be inclusive
A meeting is nothing without its members – and even less without the one in question. Invite your loved one to discuss their own advanced care planning. So often, society infantilizes its elders due to prejudice and poor representation in the media. Ironically, think about yourself for a moment: how would you want to conduct your own end-of-life care planning? What considerations would you have? Concerns? Surely, you’d want a say in your own future! Give the same courtesy to your loved one. It’s important to preserve their autonomy as much as possible.
Other members to consider: neighbors, family friends, caregivers, spouses. Anyone who may have advanced knowledge of your loved one’s schedule and can inform the more practical considerations of care like toileting and bathing. Maintain inclusivity without sacrificing intimacy. These conversations are best had with a close-knit group of people, and the more people you invite, the harder it will be to keep the conversation on its course.
3. Set an agenda for the meeting
With so many personalities in the room, conversation can easily diverge. Especially if colored by outstanding family dynamics like personal disagreements and feuds. A clearly articulated agenda will maintain the course and suggest natural conversation progressions through sensitive topics. Allot the majority of time to allowing your loved one to voice their wishes and concerns.
Several resources exist already to start that process: for instance, The Conversation Project offers an online conversation starter kit your loved one can fill out to better understand what they expect out of their advanced care planning. Likewise, The Hello Event Kit from Common Practice frames the conversation as a game, putting a fun spin on an otherwise sensitive subject. We further suggest appointing a note keeper who can catalogue the meeting for easier follow up during next steps. At the end of the day, you’re here together pursuing a common goal: the ultimate comfort for your loved one.
4. Employ a neutral facilitator
Remember when we mentioned those colorful personalities in the room? While an agenda certainly goes a long way in keeping the conversation on track, a neutral facilitator without any emotional attachment to the situation will guarantee it moves along smoothly. Some families bring in a caseworker to act as their third-party liaison. However, any unbiased member will be effective.
This person will be most helpful when navigating those natural family dynamics that crop up whenever you get too many people in one room together. When those happen, and they will happen, just remember: your objective here is to simply begin the conversation; not to find a solution on day one.
5. Follow up with next steps
So you had the conversation. Mission accomplished. Now for the next steps. The reality of advanced care planning can be overwhelming. Choosing the right type of housing, assessing best fit, and all while juggling life’s obligations at the same time. Many families find the help of Senior Care Consultantsto be extremely comforting and beneficial during these transitional times. Sunshine Senior Services walks alongside you through the entire process at no cost to you. We begin with a personal assessment and determine which of our licensed communities best fit your needs. To learn more about Sunshine Senior Services, book a free consultation today! Contact Us.
Call Sunshine Senior Services today and let them do all the hard work for you!! 470-204-2333 ext. 102
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