Life planning conversations are difficult to navigate and many of us don’t get much practice having them. Here are some things to keep in mind while discussing the topic:
- Setting: These conversations take a while. Make sure you have a couple hours set aside so you can say what you want to say and listen to what your relative has to say. Consider bringing it up after dinner. Put your phone down, turn off the TV and make sure you’re free from distractions.
- Signpost: Let your relative know that you are interested in talking about the next chapter of his/her life.
- Deliver your message: Express your concern using an “I statement”.
“I’m concerned that your entering a stage in your life where you might start to have challenges with parts of your day-to-day living.”
- Alignment: Life planning is a sensitive topic and it’s easy to come off as antagonistic and confrontational. The first part of the conversation should be learning your relative’s goals and aligning yourself with those goals.
“I want to support you in living your next years safely and comfortably the way you want to. Have you thought about where you wanted to be or what you wanted to do?”
- Invitation: Ask to participate in your relative’s care and wellbeing. A good way to start is with the most laborious tasks.
“Can I make anything easier for you? I can help out in the garden or do your weekly grocery shopping.”
- Recommendation: Bring up services you feel will help your relative live his/her best life!
“Because you’re living alone, I think it would be helpful to have a way to be more aware of you when I’m not here. I’ve been reading about Billy, and I think it can bring us both peace of mind knowing that you’re okay and that I can tell when something’s off.”
- Shared decision making: Review relevant services together, discuss, and arrive at a decision together.