In Episode 28 of our series, we delve into a crucial and often challenging topic – "Eldercare Communications: How to Talk About End-of-Life Planning." Hosted by Diane Carbo, this episode sheds light on the benefits, fears, concerns, and strategies associated with discussing end-of-life planning, especially in the context of caring for elderly individuals. As caregivers, it's essential to navigate this conversation with empathy, understanding, and the intention to ensure our loved ones' wishes are respected.
Diane Carbo: Welcome, please share the benefits of having end of life conversations. Can you share the fears and concerns a person they have
Diane Carbo: discussions about end of life issues are painful to think about talking about end of life issues is so difficult for most that they choose to ignore the subject, deny it as an issue, or just refuse to confront the issue at all. Death is a natural process of final passage of life. It is also a reminder to us that life is precious and we should celebrate it every day.
Diane Carbo: Discussing end of life issues in planning for end of life has many benefits. A dignified death is one we have on our own terms.
Diane Carbo: The benefit of discussing end of life issues are many you and your family member can maintain some control over which medical treatments will be considered and which will not. You will be able to make the decision, whether your loved one. You will be able to make a decision where your loved one will be when their time comes, you will be able to control how your loved one chooses to spend their last days, determine how the end of life will be delivered and what comfort measures.
Diane Carbo: Another benefit is being able to determine how end of life care will be delivered and what comfort measures will be provided. It is also an opportunity to discuss fears sorrow. Remember the good times you shared with your loved ones, express love, and even make apologies and reparations. It is also the benefit of discuss end of life discussions is avoiding death in an institutionalized setting, avoiding unnecessary and uncomfortable even painful treatments.
Diane Carbo: But the most important benefit of all is making certain, your loved one’s last wishes are honored. You, the survivor can move forward with a feeling of satisfaction and without guilt or regret. That’s a really important one for so many caregivers because they look back and they have guilt. Please share the fears and concerns.
Diane Carbo: Family caregivers may have.
Diane Carbo: The fears and concerns your family loved ones have regarding the end of life issues. And end of life planning are many, they fear, pain and suffering. They fear the unknown. They feel leaving your loved ones or being alone, or even becoming a burden to their family. They feel a loss of control over their life.
Diane Carbo: They feel a loss of dignity and many few deaths, and they want to have all the medical technology can provide, but they never consider the quality of life versus quantity.
Diane Carbo: Please share strategies to initiate the conversation.
Diane Carbo: There are many fears and concerns family caregivers have. And I want to discuss those as well. Many feel uncomfortable in discussions about end of life issues. They find it too emotional and painful to think about many, perceive it as morbid, and they don’t even want to face their own reality. Avoiding the topic is of end of life issues.
Diane Carbo: And end of life planning does not postpone the inevitable facing our fears as uncomfortable as it may be is the first step to dealing with life final lessons. Families and their aging loved ones often think that they are prepared for whatever life brings them many. Believe that death will be quick and painless, modern it’s science and technology many times can extend life and have life is oftentimes played out in the hospital controlled room by modern technology.
Diane Carbo: So if you want to open the lines of communications. Hopefully you were able to open the lines of communications and have developed an ongoing trusting relationship with your family member. You want to avoid family battles. You want to avoid family battles or making decisions under stress. When emotions are running high, it is important.
Diane Carbo: Discuss end of life issues before your loved one is too sick or cognitively unable to express their wishes. Planning ahead of time, will decrease stress and anxiety and give you comfort in knowing your awning, the wishes of your family member. It’s good to set a time and place where there’ll be no interruptions.
Diane Carbo: It should be quiet and comfortable. A private setting is best. Start the conversation. Ask you permission to discuss the topic. This gives you a family member sense of respect and comfort in knowing what you work, that you were concerned about their wellbeing. You could start off with, Hey, we’re getting organized with our paperwork and I feel I’m making progress.
Diane Carbo: I still think I still have concerns about how you want to be cared for. If you become sick. Can we talk about it now? Or you can say I’ve been thinking and it occurred to me that if you become ill, I do not know what kind of care you would like. I really feel better if we talk about this now. I really feel better if we talk about this now, is that okay with you a while your family member to set the pace after opening the conversation, understand that this isn’t it understand that it is normal to encounter resistance.
Diane Carbo: The first time you bring it up, don’t be surprised or discouraged. Instead, plan to try again at another time.
Diane Carbo: Please explain what a healthcare power of attorney and advanced directive is.
Diane Carbo: And advanced directive is a legal document that states the medical treatment and or life sustaining measures you would or would not want. Should you have an end of life situation that occur? And you. Unable to communicate your choices or your wishes to anyone. It is a written healthcare plan. A healthcare power of attorney means an individual that you trust to make those decisions for you when you are no longer able to express your wishes.
Diane Carbo: Advanced directive should be in place for anyone over the age of 18, more often than not individuals feel that advanced directive they’re not really necessary. I hope you will check out our podcast series. On end of life planning. We go into detail on all the aspects of end of life planning process.
Diane Carbo: This lesson is just the focus on the conversations. I hope that you will look into the five wishes. Advanced directive, five wishes.org is written in plain English, not medical or legal jar jargon and helps people express in their own words, their wishes for the kind of care they want it. They want in advance of a serious illness.
Diane Carbo: Five wishes is unique among all other living will and health. Agent forums out there because it looks to all of the person’s needs, medical, personal, emotional, spiritual, five wishes. Also encourages discussing your wishes with your family and your physician. Again, that’s www.fivewishes.org. What are yours for you and your family members today?
Diane Carbo: Please suggest more strategies to have this conversation. When speaking with your family member, consider these strategies planning ahead of time and expressing your wishes can improve your quality of care. Or this allows, this also allows you. Or you can take the approach. This also allows your family to be available, to make educated medical treatment decisions, decreasing stress and anxiety at a difficult time.
Diane Carbo: Or you can say things like family members can focus on what is important, caring for you in the fashion that you want to be cared for. This and other strategies are more in the handout I have created for this segment.
Diane Carbo: In your ongoing daily conversations, you may want to take time to find out what is important to your loved ones. What are their major fears? What level of sickness or discomfort is unacceptable to them? What are their feelings about programs that promote comfort instead of constantly battling death?
Diane Carbo: Listen for. Use your active listening skills I’ve discussed in the early part of this elder care communications course, listen for the wants and needs that your loved one expresses, make it clear that they’re sharing their feelings about end of life issues. It’s important to you. Be truthful, be respectful and be empathetic, acknowledge that they have a right to make life choices, even if they don’t agree with your own.
Diane Carbo: Keep in mind, if this is a conversation, not a debate, sometimes just having someone to talk to is a big help. Be sure to make an effort, to hear and understand what the person is saying. These moments, although difficult are important and special to both of you. And remember actions speak louder than words.
Diane Carbo: Some important things that you can do are listen for the wants and needs of your loved one. When they express them, pay attention and make eye contact, be aware of your body language, show affection, make clear that your loved one is sharing with you. Make clear that what your loved one is sharing with you is important to you.
Diane Carbo: Show empathy and respect by addressing these wants and needs in a truthful and open way verbally acknowledge your loved one’s right to make life choices. Even if you don’t agree with those choices. Part of end of life planning includes making preparations for a funeral, planning, a funeral with your loved one can seem overwhelming.
Diane Carbo: This is a very difficult topic for many but planning. Some of the details can be a great relief to the survivors. A funeral is one of the most stressful and expensive consumer purchases a family can make. Final arrangements are an important final transaction. And many times these decisions are made at a time of bereavement and duress decisions and choices are usually made when a person is in shock, having feelings of guilt, remorse, and a sense of why.
Diane Carbo: These feelings can cloud your judgment. Many times the act of spending money can be confused with caring or expressions of love. The benefits of pre-planning a funeral are not only to decrease stress and very emotional time. It has financial benefits as well. As with other aspects of advanced planning, the benefits of discussing funeral plans in advance almost always outweigh the discomfort of this conversation.
Diane Carbo: Here’s some ways a funeral plan can help you avoid disagreements amongst the family members. It gives you time to compare the various options costs and companies. It avoids a pressure of sales people at a very difficult time, and it allows time for money to be set aside for a funeral car. It also gives peace of mind to the care recipient that his and her family.
Diane Carbo: Are having their wishes. It gives peace of mind to the care recipient and his family that his or her wishes will be carried out. And it avoids having to make quick decisions while under terrible stress. If a burial plot is purchased with the proper contract in place, the space is reserved.
Diane Carbo: Even if the cemetery is sold later. If you plan to do most of the arrangements without the help of a funeral home, you’ll have time to research regulations and secure permits to summarize. I’d like to end up. To summarize as the end of life happens, we are never prepared to let go of our loved one. While we experienced pain, sorrow, and a sense of helplessness.
Diane Carbo: We are giving ourselves a gift. We are sharing time with our loved one. As they leave us behind emotionally, we understand that our caregiving experience is coming to an end. We never are prepared for how we work, accept, or deal with our loss. When the time comes planning ahead, gives us a sense of satisfaction and comfort that you are honoring your loved one’s wishes.
Diane Carbo: I’d like to end this as I do every one of my podcasts. Remember caregivers, you are the most important part of the caregiving equation without you. It all falls apart. Please practice self care every day because you are worth it. Thank you for this valuable information.
The journey of caring for our elderly loved ones is a profound one, marked by moments of joy, challenges, and the inevitability of the end-of-life phase. Diane Carbo's episode has guided us through the complexities of addressing end-of-life planning, showing us that while it may be uncomfortable, it is an act of profound love and respect. Engaging in these discussions empowers both caregivers and their loved ones to make informed decisions, allowing for dignity, control, and peace in a time that can be fraught with uncertainties. As caregivers, let's remember that the conversations we initiate today can pave the way for a compassionate and meaningful transition when the time comes.
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