Lets’ face it – we aren’t getting any younger (or better looking – although I have noticed I find grey much more attractive these days!) And at some point in our lives, we will likely have difficulty caring for ourselves. It may be foreseen or unexpected; short term or unending, because life happens and not always the way we wish.
But do we plan or even discuss how to deal with these possibilities? Rarely. Maybe we think if we ignore the possibility it won’t happen – like believing if you don’t buy snow tires, it won’t snow. But no matter our current health or living situation, we should plan ahead to make sure our wishes are known and to avoid the problems and confusion that may occur when something does happen.
During the June 18th workshop “The Talk” held at the Center presented with the help of Heart of Hospice, Rev. Kathleen Flynn referenced a planning guide for families called “Prepare to Care” produced and distributed by the AARP Foundation. (Copies are available at the Center or you can find the guide at the AARP Foundation website.)
Since “Prepare to Care” offers too much useful information to share in this one column, I would encourage you to read the Planning guide. But here are several points I found particularly helpful.
First, don’t try to avoid these difficult conversations by making decisions unilaterally. If you are the adult child, you should never make a plan affecting your parent without their knowledge and consent – both to protect your parent and also to protect you – the caregiver – from allegations of abuse and fraud.
Secondly, it is never too early to start the conversation. Ideally this conversation should take place over a period of time before there is an immediate need – to nurture trusting relationships and to create a plan agreeable to all.
Lastly, use the following ground rules to help navigate these or any difficult conversations.
1. Don’t start with preconceived ideas. You can’t assume what your loved ones will think or how they will respond. 2. Enter into the conversation with the idea of listening instead of telling. No one wants to be told what to do. 3. Be direct with the facts of the situation. Don’t hide or sugar coat them but also don’t embellish them to fit your point of view. 5. Ask questions so that your loved one can draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. 6. Allow for anger and upset feelings. But respond calmly and with respect. 7. Don’t push for a decision. You can always come back to the conversation which also allows everyone time to think about it. 8. Make sure everyone participates in the planning. You may need to coax a response out of the more reserved members of the family.
9. End the conversation on a positive note. Do something fun together – reminding everyone you are all family with common experiences and close relationships.
When the future may not seem as appealing as when you were twenty one, discussing and planning may be difficult, but even more necessary. Start the conversation, sooner than later, and with respect and understanding, so you will be prepared when life does happen.
Tuesday Night music at the Center on July 5th will feature Andre and the Strawberry Mountain Band. And tonight the Jazz Generations will play a variety of Big Band sounds for your listening and dancing pleasure. The music starts at 7:00, everyone is invited and donations are alwys appreciated.
The “Pueblo” commanded by Lloyd M. Bucher was the intelligence gathering ship captured by North Korea on January 23rd 1968 and which is still officially commissioned in the US Navy.(And the winner of a Cowboy Breakfast on July 16th is “runnin and gunnin” Bob Thouvenal.) And now back to the regular broadcast. NBC’s nightly news program that aired from October 29, 1956 through July 31, 1970 was the top news program in the 1960’s. Who were the two news anchors and for bonus points from what city did each report? E-mail your answer to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of the March 12, 1961 cover of Newsweek which described them as “One is Solemn, the Other Twinkly”.
Well it’s been another week trying to sleep while the evening skies are still lit. Until we meet again, it’s hard to drive down the freeway of life when always looking in the rear view mirror.
“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn’t.” Erica Jong