Why don’t we talk?

We all know it’s a good idea to have conversations about care, help at home and future plans but we often put them off for various reasons.

You might:

  • worry about suggesting the wrong thing because you lack confidence or knowledge
  • want to protect family members and not want them to worry
  • want to avoid talking about options such as going into residential care
  • feel the time isn’t right
  • live too far away or not have time

Your relative may be putting off the conversation for similar reasons. They may feel worried or frustrated when they think about future changes, fear losing their independence or not want to upset you by talking about their end of life plans, for example.

I think, oh I won’t say anything, leave it… you don’t always tell them because they’re going to worry.

Putting off these conversations until there’s a crisis and you have to act quickly means making decisions under pressure. In addition, your relative may no longer have the ability to express their wishes if they have lost mental capacity. Mental capacity means having the ability to understand, retain and use information in order to make and express decisions about your life. People may lose mental capacity temporarily or permanently. It can happen over time or very suddenly. It’s better to have arrangements in place before anything happens.

If you are in a crisis situation and need to make decisions quickly, there is help available.

Call the Independent Age Helpline 0800 319 6789 for free, impartial advice.

One of the important things is getting your children to realise that you’re not going to be here much longer. They think you’re going to go on forever.


Why it’s good to talk

You may have noticed your relative could do with some extra help at home or may need to move into more suitable housing. Or perhaps you want to know about their wishes for the end of their life so you can be sure any decisions made on their behalf would be what they wanted. This can feel very difficult but there are lots of good reasons for starting a conversation about sensitive subjects:

  • it can give you and your relative peace of mind for the future
  • you can get arrangements in place ahead of time
  • knowing your relative’s wishes means they are more likely to be met if they are unable to make or communicate a decision in future
  • you can find out what’s important to them and avoid any family arguments
  • decisions won’t have to be made in a rush later – you can take your time and think them over now.

It’s much easier to have the conversation ahead of time, before your relative needs any extra help and you’re talking about possible options rather than something that needs to happen soon. Start small and talk often.

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