Why Talk About Home Care? Well, Why Not?

Home care? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it

Many seniors resist home care because they feel they should be able to manage things on their own.  Whether they should or not isn’t really the question.  There’s no rule stating that seniors should be able to manage on their own.  Using the word “should” under these circumstances sometimes helps people avoid facing the word “can’t.”

If you are the adult child of a senior who is needing a little extra help around the house, you might try posing some different kinds of questions with your loved one.  It could mean all the difference in being able to support their desire to remain independent.  Your desire to avoid exhausting yourself as a family caregiver will be well served, too!

How long do you want to remain independently in your home/apartment?

People who truly want to remain in their homes generally respond with words like forever or I’m not going anywhere.  I’m going to die here.  And that’s fine.  There could be some obstacles to making that possible, though.  Forethought and planning ahead can help.  Following up with more specific questions can pave the way to meaningful discussion.  And that can pave the way to putting a workable care plan in place for the long haul.

“Mom, dad, what steps are you taking right now to ensure that can happen for you?”

Home care why? Why not?

This is just about the time a deer-in-the-headlights look may flash across your folks’ faces.  You’ll know you’ve work to do if the response is a wave of the hand and “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”  It’s obviously important not to argue.  Getting into a tug-o-war when mom or dad dig in their heels won’t solve anything.  It could actually make the situation worse.

Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It takes a lot of patience and, in some cases, an iron will to set aside family dynamics and become the calm voice of reason.  Try acknowledging how important the wish to stay at home feels, and forge ahead:

There’ll be a lot of bridges to cross and I know you’re fine at the moment.  I’d like it to be possible that things remain fine for you.  Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It isn’t easy for anyone to say, “No, I’m not willing,” even when entrenched.  If you frame your questions so an affirmative response is easier to say, you can gain a lot of ground very quickly in your conversations.  Avoiding use of the word why helps remove potentially defensive reactions.  That allows the question to come through more clearly.   Structuring framework or boundaries around questions helps keep the focus.

Rather than using the word why, try using how or what

Using the word why can trigger defensiveness in some conversations.  Stating that your senior should get help around the house can set off an emotional response, making conversation more difficult.

What does it feel like when you think about someone who isn’t me taking you to get your groceries once a week? (Basically says, “This isn’t going to be easy for either of us” and sets the boundary that it won’t always be you helping to run errands.).

Home care running errands

When you are no longer driving,  what’s the best way for getting to your appointments while I’m working? (Implies the inevitable loss of driving without saying “when you can no longer” or “when you aren’t able.”  Sets boundary around when adult child will or will not be available.).

When you think about someone coming to do light housekeeping or cooking with you, what kind of reaction do you have? (Allows expression of concerns and sets boundaries. Notice use of “with you” rather than “for you.”).

home care kitchen help

Loads of errands, cleaning, cooking, appointments, fun excursions, and some wonderful companionship can happen with just a few hours a week.  Home care takes the pressure off family caregivers.  It helps seniors establish and maintain new relationships.  In-home care lends a sense of safety and confidence to seniors who really want to stay at home as long as possible.

Share these top five reasons to choose in-home care with your loved one.  Then contact One2One Home Care for more information.

Death Cafe Founder, Jon Underwood, Dies at 44

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Jon Underwood personally.  I interviewed him a few years ago to learn about  Death Cafe.  Being in the process of founding a similar kind of venture, I sought like-minded others.  I really wanted to hear their stories.  Jon was one of them.  I wanted to learn what it had been like for him to walk, quite literally, into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  He strode boldly and publicly into such conversations, complete with tea and cake, in 2011.

Death Cafe discussions now take place from Australia to Nigeria and every place in between.  As of this writing, there have been 4836 Death Cafe discussions in 51 countries.  And these are just the ones registered on the Death Cafe website.

What was it that motivated him?  More importantly, why?

As I recall, he explained it something like this: the monsters in the closet are only scary until we shed light on them.  Jon felt (and I do, too) that talking about Death in a very real and personal way ultimately makes those conversations less uncomfortable.  More than that, something kind of amazing begins to take place: a deeper, more thoughtful appreciation for life in all its forms starts to develop.  And then to flourish.

Death, Dying

Dying Matters.  A lot.

People say it’s too hard to talk about dying.  Honestly, it’s easier than you think.  Particularly if you or a loved one aren’t actually in the throes of doing it while trying to start the conversation.

Seniors frequently say to me they want to talk about it with their kids, but the kids don’t want to.  Adult children often say to me they want to talk about it with their folks, but the folks don’t want to.  When I hear this, I have to wonder whether either has actually tackled the subject with the other and who is really doing the avoiding!

I’m pretty certain that Jon Underwood did not imagine in 2011 that he would die in 2017 at the age of 44, leaving behind his wife, his children, and a world full of people who understand what he was trying to accomplish.  And I’m also feeling certain that his having talked openly about dying hasn’t lessened the incredible shock his family currently experiences with this  kind of a loss.

Talking About Dying Matters a Lot, Too

Here’s what I do know.  He’s left behind a legacy of openness and authenticity that’s hard to argue with.  He’s given his family, friends, and thousands of others across the globe a creative way to address the elephant in the living room.  That means something.  And that’s what life and death are: the meaning we make of it.

Here’s the bonus: Damariscotta Death Cafe has been meeting monthly for four years and is as lively and strong as ever.  Join in the fun on the second Monday of each month at Savory Maine, 9:00am.  No agenda.  No taboos.

Here’s to you, Jon.  I hope wherever you are now, there’s tea, cake, and heartfelt conversation.


Love, Death