How to Have the Talk About Aging
When you start to notice signs of the aging process with your loved one, whether its forgetfulness or slowing down physically, its time to have the talk with them. Having the talk is about helping your aging loved one prepare for the aging process and making a plan. Topics of discussion would include how your aging loved one would like to handle situations that involve declining health, accidents, and other lifestyle changes. This blog will help you have the talk about aging with your loved one.
Preparing for the Talk
Decide what should be discussed and by who. the team should choose the right time to have the talk with your loved one. Avoid difficult periods in your loved one’s life. Times that this talk should not be discussed include immediately after the death of another loved one or after he or she has been recently diagnosed or experienced an accident.
Plan for the right time and place. There should be plenty of time allowed for the conversation so as to not have your loved one feel rushed or overwhelmed. The best place to have the talk should be in a place where your loved one feels relaxed and comfortable. Potential locations could include his or her garden, on his or her daily walk, or after dinner in his or her home.
Have a topic ready to help start the conversation. Potential transitions include a relevant article, community news piece, or relateable story.
Listed below are some examples of conversation starters.
“I talked to Sarah who used to live down the street the other day. She said her mom is doing great and recently got a caregiver to help her around the house. What do you think about that?”
“I recently read an article about all the new living options as the aging population is increasing. Do you want to hear about some of those options?”
Since this will be the first time you will be talking to your loved one about the aging process, you should prepare to counter resistance.
If your loved one seems defensive about the conversation, consider using the following examples.
“I want to make sure you are doing good. Talking about this will give me peace of mind about you.”
“I really care about you and I want to understand how you are feeling.”
If resistance from your loved one continues, do not push the subject. Plan to revisit the conversation at another time. By bringing up the topic of aging, you have planted the seed for your loved one to give the topic some thought, and time may give your loved one the ability to better prepare for a conversation in the future.
Remember: The goal for the conversation is to understand what your loved one’s goals are and his or her fears for the future as she ages.
Having the Talk
When it comes time for the talk, a few questions and concerns should be asked along with bringing up your family’s key concerns. Two tools that can help better prepare you for the talk
with your loved one are Home Care Conversation (PDF) and Care Conversation Guide (PDF).
After breaking the ice with your conversation starter, ask your loved one about their goals for aging. Don’t be surprised if your loved one has a plan in place. Make sure to listen openly and don’t judge your loved one’s plans or ideas about the future. Don’t try to change his or her mind.
Remember: This talk is to help your loved one’s care support team gauge where your loved one is currently at, not to push the opinions of you or your family for your loved one’s future on him or her.
After your loved one’s goals have been heard, ask about his or her needs.
An example for how to ask about your loved one’s needs without causing offense would be:
“Are there any areas that are causing you difficulty that I could help you talk through or figure out?”
Potential areas to ask about based on the family’s agreed topics would include home/maintenance and living situations, financial affairs, transportation needs, personal care, health care (including adaptive devices), communications, and socialization.
Key things to remember during your conversation:
- Do not be condescending, be conversational.
- Take note of what your loved one’s goals are for later discussion.
- It’s a conversation, not a lecture. Ask questions and let them talk more than you. Avoid role reversal. Do not take on the parent role. Make sure the conversation is equal.
- Suggest a follow up conversation. This will give both of you time to think about the conversation and allow you to talk to other family members about it.
How Caregogi can Help
If during your talk, your aging loved one decides that aging in place in their home is the best option for them, home care may be needed. If this is the case, Caregogi can help. Caregogi is an online platform that connects seniors in need of care with caregivers. Local, quality caregivers can be connected with seniors at half the cost of traditional home care agencies. Click the button below to visit Caregogi’s website.
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