Why is it so difficult to talk with loved ones about the practical issues pertaining to growing older, weaker and less able to care for one? Is it fear, is it denial, is it the discomfort most of us have when thinking about something unknown? I think the answer is yes to all of the above.
Let’s face it; we all get older as does our family members. No one is immune or unaffected by this reality. So, why then is making plans and discussing the future such a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb.
The Nike logo – just do it is probably more than accurate. The facts are not going to change. We get older, we get sicker and we rely on others for our day to day care and to make responsible, thoughtful decisions for us. So, why are so many people in the position where they have been thrust into a situation that calls for immediate response and yet we don’t know which way to turn?
We don’t know because we don’t like to confront unpleasant realities and encourage those closest to us to do the same. We don’t know what to do or what Mom would want because we have not asked her and she has not offered her wishes.
It can be as simple as “how do I get my uncle to stop driving” he has advanced glaucoma and his reflexes aren’t as quick as they used to be.
It can be as complicated as having a family member on life support in a hospital bed, tubes going in and out, etc. If they could open their eyes and communicate – what would they say about their treatment? Would they want to have the plug pulled?
Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, these types of situations can be made so much easier for all involved if we could just sit down and talk. Talk about feelings/wishes/thoughts/fears about the future. Talk about choices and options. Talk about finances…
Communication is the key to the knowledge we need to make the tough decisions and having the confidence that we are truly acting in good faith.