Care Conversations Tips – Care Conversations with your loved ones

To find the right care solution, you must first know what you’re looking for. Keep in mind care wants are just as important as care needs. Talking with your loved ones may seem difficult at times, but regular discussions ensure everyone is working toward the same goal. Care Conversations™ help loved ones discover personal preferences and wishes that they might not have otherwise known. These insights help narrow the search criteria and make it easier to find the right care solution. By speaking openly and honestly about priorities and concerns, you can identify areas that require further research or discussion.

5 Tips For Successful Care Conversations:

Many of us avoid Care Conversations because we assume loved ones don’t want to discuss sensitive matters. These perceptions may not be reality. Loved ones may want to talk. The process may be easier than we think. We simply won’t know until we try, so it’s important to push past initial reservations and commit to taking action. Once you’ve made the decision to act, how do you go about initiating a delicate conversation? Even with the best intentions and strong determination, you may find yourself speechless. To improve your chances of Care Conversation success, follow these five tips:

1- Address the Who, Where, and When.

The right mix of people, place, and timing will help set the right tone for a pleasant, productive Care Conversation. Because Care Conversations are likely to affect everyone, it’s worth trying to involve everyone. While it may seem tough to find a quiet moment amidst the hustle and bustle of busy lives, try to find a place and time when people are likely to be relaxed and receptive.

2- Be flexible.

Unforeseen circumstances can alter even the best-laid plans. However eager we may be to “get it over with”, a Care Conversation should not be forced or rushed. Allow discussions to evolve naturally. Plan for a few hiccups. If a family member is running late or your loved one seems to be having a bad day, consider rescheduling. When you are able to start a conversation, be flexible about how long the discussion lasts and what, if anything, is accomplished.

3- Take the “right” approach.

Everyone’s situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all “right” approach. Consider your loved one’s unique preferences and tailor your tactics accordingly. Here are three techniques that can help you start a Care Conversation:

Start With Small Talk. Look for natural conversation starters. For example, if you’re helping an aging relative run errands or cook, you might ask, “What’s the best part of the day for you?” or “What’s the hardest?” Giving loved ones the opportunity to talk on their own terms makes Care Conversations casual and less intimidating.

Turn The Tables. Talk about others in similar situations to avoid putting loved ones on the defensive about their own circumstances. Ask aging relatives if they cared for their parents or grandparents. If so, what was the experience like? What might they have done differently? You can also share your life and care plans. Mention your steps to prepare a will or advance directive, and ask for input and assistance.

Express A Worry. Voicing concern can help loved ones see care discussions in a new light. You might say, “I’m worried that some day I’ll be making decisions on your behalf. I want to be sure I make the right ones.” This approach puts Care Conversations in the proper context of cooperative planning.

4- Ask specific questions.

Be specific in your questions to fully understand the situation and level of need. You might ask:

  • Do you feel comfortable driving to the bank? What about driving at night?
  • How often do you go to the grocery store? Is it hard to bring in groceries?
  • What do you worry about?
  • How does it feel to be 80 (or 90 or 100)?
  • What do you talk about with your friends?
  • What would you like me to know that I don’t yet?

You don’t have to tiptoe around questions; you can also ask what weighs on your heart. For example, if your loved one seems to struggle with a fear of dying, you might simply ask, “Are you afraid?” Honest questions can make difficult situations easier, and offer greater peace of mind.

5- Remember, it’s not about you.

The goal at this point is to simply gather information, listen and observe. While we can certainly help our loved ones make choices, we should be careful not to take over the decision-making process. If Care Conversations don’t go as well as you had hoped, don’t take it personally. Acknowledging and addressing changing care needs can be very difficult for everyone involved. Focus on small wins. If loved ones are reluctant to discuss topics such as personal finance, you might ask what bank they use or where they keep important documents. If a question prompts an unfavorable response, simply say, “I didn’t mean to upset you. I want to make sure I understand what you need.” You can always take a break for a few minutes or even a few days. Some conversations will turn out better than others. The important thing is to just keep trying and keep talking.

Great Place to Work logo
Best Workplaces in Aging Services logo
AHCA Awards