“CONVERSATE” (that’s southern vernacular, y’all, and another –ATE verb. We use verbs because we are in action!)
At times we struggle to begin conversations with loved ones. Holiday gatherings can offer good opportunities to feel your way. It helps to have a way to begin a conversation which could go anywhere from perfunctory greeting to verbal quagmire.
There are times when a script makes communication easier. A script implies that it’s been said before (phew!), someone has formulated a way to address the scenario. We are essentially off the hook for freestyle, and there is less chance of screwing things up.
In our heart of hearts we know that we need to talk with Mom about XYZ. But, how do we begin?
A good way to start is tell a story about a friend (real or imagined). Have a “For instance” ready, and launch into it. Folks will listen (and try it on for themselves). Conversations will roll around to someone who has a similar situation. Use the opportunity to listen, and then wade in. Someone has likely gone through a similar ordeal, and the tone is suitable for family conversation.
Home Health Care Conversations
Here is a small collection of our favorite leads:
Tailor this one to your needs: “Our neighbor, Mrs. Blake, had (an accident or surgery). For a while she was unable to…(work, cook, do chores, return to the doctor, even go to the mailbox”). “She needed help from (family, friend, home health agency, NAVIGATE NC) for a while”.
Ask for an opinion. “If you thought someone needed help, what would you do?” Or even more pointedly, “If (such-and-such happened) to you, what would you do?”
Break the ice with humor. When my friend Betty gets together with old friends they agree to limit their stories of physical ailments to 10 minutes each. They call it their “Organ Recital”.
While on the subject (or at the Recital) use empathy to keep the dialogue open. “That sounds tough to deal with”. “Do you think getting a medical opinion would help?”
Plant a seed with a story. “Say, how does not having to fix supper once a week sound? My co-worker’s folks had supper delivered once a week, and really got used to it. Later they hired someone to clean the house and cook a little, and their dinner was all set up. He said they never looked back!”
Tell a story as depicted on a popular TV show. Discuss the made-for-TV scenario that illustrates an issue, and how it was handled. “That made us realize… (that we need emergency numbers on/by our phones, or …to be ready to…)”.
Discuss current event. “We’ve just made out a will, and we want you to know… (some of the decisions we’ve made, that the laws changed on XYZ, etc.)”. There’s nothing like a good “Did You Know” conversation.
More current events: What’s going on around town? How is your neighbor? Who made a home modification? What goes on in a weather emergency (what did you do/what will you do in that case)? What about saving money on gas and joining the bunch that the church van picks up on Sunday? You get the idea. Discuss what that may look like with your senior loved one.
Resistance to change is normal. We can lessen resistance with a story and how it worked out. Stories give everyone permission to envision themselves in the situation. It sort of “gives us permission to change”. Normalize it. Plant that seed.
Holidays are for caring and conversatin’ with those we love. It is our responsibility to see that our loved ones have everything they need. Please feel free to connect with NAVIGATE NC to talk with us about your concerns or how to plant those seeds. -And we love to conversate!
Image credit: Big Stock.com