Conversations about the end of your elderly family member’s life may not go how you expect them to go. There’s a lot that you need to know as her caregiver, and sometimes it’s painful to get to those answers. How you approach the conversation matters quite a bit more than you might have thought.
Don’t Worry about Directing the Conversation
A common misconception is that you need to lead this conversation and guide your senior to where she needs to end up. The reality is that if you’re getting your elderly family member to open up and to talk about this topic, just let her roll with it. By letting her take the reins, you’re going to get answers to questions you never even thought to ask.
Leave Judgments out of the Talk
Your senior may have wishes and needs that are not only news to you, but they may not coincide with the choices you might make. That’s got to be okay. This conversation is about understanding what your elderly family member wants in her later months and days. That’s why it’s so important that you leave your own judgments and preconceived notions out of the talk altogether.
Some of this may be topics that your elderly family member has given quite a bit of thought to over the years. Perhaps she had a spouse or a family member who she witnessed in a situation like hers and that caused her to think about this earlier. But it’s also entirely likely that your elderly family member has never thought about some of these issues at all. You’ll need to be patient and allow her to think about what she really wants.
Try Again a Little Later
Your senior may need quite a bit more time than you think. Along with being patient, you may simply need to revisit the entire conversation later. There’s no harm in waiting a few days and then asking your elderly family member if she’s given the topic a little more thought. Taking things slowly gives you a chance to think, too.
One of the benefits of having end-of-life care providers available to you is that they can put you in touch with resources that can help you and your senior determine what she needs and wants. They can also help you to implement those plans once they’re clear to everyone involved in the situation.