Figuring out what your senior wants at the end of her life doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The best way to make sure you’re doing what she needs and what she wants is to talk to her, but that might be easier said than done. Patience and persistence will pay off, though.
Avoidance Is High with This Topic
This is not an easy conversation at all and there are some big reasons for that. Your elderly family member may be in denial about what’s going on, even if she’s had conversations with you and with her doctor that show she’s aware. Humans tend to feel as if not talking about something can somehow make it not happen, especially if it’s a painful or tough topic. End-of-life issues definitely fall into both categories.
She Has Preferences
The most important thing to remember from the start is that your senior has preferences about what is to come, even if she hasn’t shared those preferences with you. She may worry that you won’t agree with her or that you’ll judge her because of what she has decided to do. It helps to acknowledge to her that you know she has her own wishes and opinions and that you want to help her to get what she wants.
You Have to Know Those Preferences to Meet Them
Until you know and understand your senior’s preferences for the end of her life, you can’t do anything to facilitate them. You’re left wandering in the dark and that can be frustrating for her. She may feel as if you should just know what she wants, even if you haven’t officially talked about these concerns. It can help to be patient with her and to restate what you feel she’s told you so you can get clarification.
It Doesn’t Have to All Be on You
There are a lot of times when seniors at the end of their lives aren’t able to share the information they need and want to share simply because family members are too close to the situation. It might be easier for your senior to express what she wants to a third party, like hospice elder care providers. They can then help you to find the resources you need to do what your senior ultimately wants.
You might worry that it’s too late to have this talk, especially if your senior has been putting it off. But keep trying anyway. You might get farther than you think.