End of Life Care Planning: How to Start a Conversation
For most people, planning for the end of life (or even thinking about it) can be an unpleasant experience. But the reality is, having this discussion can bring peace of mind to you, your aging loved one, and their family members.
Being able to plan out end of life care options will help to honor your senior’s wishes if and when they are no longer able to speak for themselves.
Though emotionally challenging, end of life care planning is an important part of ensuring both your senior’s satisfaction and dignity.
But how do you go about starting a conversation like this? After all, it’s a sensitive topic and can be difficult to bring up. We understand, that’s why we are here to help, with 5 tips on how to start an end of life care conversation with your senior loved one:
Choose the Right Time and Place:
Talking about end-of-life choices is uncomfortable for anyone, but it’s especially difficult when you’re speaking with a senior loved one. For this reason, you should choose a comfortable and private setting where your loved one will feel safe expressing his or her thoughts on the subject.
Make sure there are no distractions or time constraints that could hinder an open and honest conversation. It’s advisable to choose a peaceful environment that encourages reflection and thoughtful communication.
Be Sensitive and Respectful:
Recognize that discussing end of life care may evoke various emotions, such as fear or sadness. That’s why it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy, compassion, and respect.
Be mindful of your words, tone, and body language. Listen attentively and validate their feelings and concerns throughout the discussion.
If you are feeling frustrated or angry, it’s best to take a break and come back to the conversation later when things have calmed down. Having a difficult discussion with bitter feelings is unlikely to lead to an outcome that is good for the person or their family.
If you feel you can’t do this on your own, you might even ask for help from an outside professional, such as a social worker or counselor.
Talk Openly & Honestly:
When the time comes, you and your family will want to be able to focus on spending quality time with your senior – not the burden of planning.
That’s why you should openly discuss end of life care options with your loved ones now. Though it may be a difficult topic to approach at that moment, it will help everyone involved in the future and make for better planning down that road.
Don’t be afraid to say what you are thinking or wondering, and make sure to give others the chance to speak their mind too. If openness and honesty is encouraged in a respectful manner, chances are your loved ones will be more willing to talk about end of life care options.
We naturally do not want to talk about death or dying, but overcoming these fears has its benefits. In fact, these early discussions can help you avoid any potential future issues—such as if your senior is unable to communicate or speak for themselves at any point.
Put Everything in Writing:
After starting the conversation, the next step is to put your senior’s wishes into writing by way of an advanced directive and a living will. Not sure what these documents are? Visit our blog here for more information.
These items help determine difficult healthcare choices when they arise. Advanced directives will help tell healthcare providers the care your senior desires should they become too ill to communicate what they want.
Living wills are an important part of an advanced directive that outline your senior’s wishes about which medical treatments should and should not be done.
These documents will allow your senior to express their wishes and greatly improve the quality of their end of life care – Even if they cannot speak for themselves at that time.
We know it can be easy to delay the conversation about end of life care planning because tend to avoid talking about death, or perhaps we feel that we are immune to it. So much in fact that 54% of seniors in North America put off planning because they were in good health, and another 48% said they trust their family members to handle their arrangements.
But don’t wait too long to start talking about it and planning. You never know if “too late” is waiting just around the corner.
Early discussions make organizing end of life care much easier and effective for both family members and caregivers (if your senior has in home care).
Plus, after you’ve had this conversation with your family, you can devote your attention to spending quality time together without having to worry about what senior care decisions need to be made next.
Still have questions? Please feel free to contact our team here at Home Care Assistance, we are happy to help you and your family while planning for end of life care.
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