Let’s face it — we aren’t getting any younger (or better looking — although I have noticed I find gray much more attractive these days!). And at some point in our lives, we will likely have difficulty caring for ourselves. It may be anticipated or unexpected, short-term or unending, because life happens and not always the way we wish.
But do we plan or even discuss how to deal with these possibilities? Rarely. Maybe we think if we ignore the possibility it won’t happen — like believing if you don’t buy snow tires, it won’t snow. But no matter our current health or living situation, we should plan to make sure our wishes are known and to avoid the problems and confusion that may occur when something does happen.
A great resource is a planning guide for families called “Prepare to Care,” primarily for the adult child but also helpful for the older parent, produced and distributed by the AARP Foundation (www.aarp.org/caregiving/prepare-to-care-planning-guide).
“Prepare to Care” offers more information than I can share in this column, but here are several points I found particularly helpful.
First, don’t try to avoid these difficult conversations by making decisions unilaterally. If you are the adult child, you should never make a plan affecting your parent without their knowledge and consent — both to protect your parent and also to protect you — the caregiver — from allegations of abuse and fraud.
Secondly, it is never too early to start the conversation. Ideally, this conversation should take place over a period of time before there is an immediate need — to nurture trusting relationships and to create a plan agreeable to all.
Lastly, use the following ground rules to help navigate these or any difficult conversations.
1) Don’t start with preconceived ideas. You can’t assume what your loved ones will think or how they will respond. 2) Enter into the conversation with the idea of listening instead of telling. No one wants to be told what to do. 3) Be direct with the facts of the situation. Don’t hide or sugar coat them but also don’t embellish them to fit your point of view. 4) Ask questions so that your loved ones can draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. 5) Allow for anger and upset feelings. But respond calmly and with respect. 6). Don’t push for a decision. You can always come back to the conversation which also allows everyone time to think about it. 7) Make sure everyone participates in the planning. You may need to coax a response out of the more reserved members of the family. 8) End the conversation on a positive note. Do something fun together — reminding everyone you are all family with common experiences and close relationships.
When the future may not seem as appealing as when you were 21, discussing and planning may be difficult, but even more necessary. Start the conversation, sooner than later, and with respect and understanding, so you will be prepared when life does happen.
“One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore.” It was an “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.” I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Susan Ellis, Barbara Cadwell, Norma Simpson, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Gene Uczen, Barb Blair, Dave Lutgens, Diana Weston, Keith Clymer and Clair Zumwalt, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. I’m always missing someone and last week I missed both Clair Zumwalt and Karen Asai. But there have been a few of you I haven’t realized I missed. My apologies but keep sending in your answers. I appreciate hearing from you.
The first version of Hollywood Squares ran from 1966 through 1981 and featured such celebrities as George Gobel, Rose Marie, Cliff Arquette (as Charley Weaver), and Wally Cox. This week’s “Remember When” question is who was the comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the middle square from 1968 to 1981? E-mail your answer to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a celebrity photo of Uncle Arthur from the TV series Bewitched.
Well, it’s been another week, watching buzzards circling gracefully in the air. Until we meet again, as my wife affectionately reminded me, “Don’t try to be humble. You aren’t that good.”
“The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.” — Molly Ivins
Nutritious home-delivered meals and pick-ups are available for anyone over 60. For more information, you can call the meal site in your area.
Hood River Valley Adult Center at 541-386-2060;
The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels at 541-298-8333;
Sherman County Senior and Community Center at 541-565-3191;
Klickitat County Senior Services — Goldendale at 509-773-3757 or White Salmon at 509-493-3068;
Skamania County Senior Services at 509-427-3990;
Seniors of Mosier Valley at 541-503-5660 or 541-980-1157.