At the very bottom, is the full content of an article that is total “fluff.” I had once posted it on my blog. I say it is fluff because it is obvious. Intuitive. What I should have written was that everyone knows that communicating is important but not everyone knows how to communicate. I joke that men are often monosyllabic when speaking on the phone. Men communicate far less frequently than woman. My source for that is “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine. Ms. Brizendine is a neuropsychologist and points out that the part of the brain that processes communication is 25% larger in a woman than a man.
Yet, men are more likely to fail early. Male life expectancy is different than female. Let’s face it! Men are weak – physiologically. I can say that. I am a man.
When men are married and begin to fail, they often rely on their spouse to provide care. Therein lies the problem. The patterns of communication that developed during a long marriage is not the most conducive to providing or managing care.
In my elder law practice, I often encourage families to write it down! Easy. Simply write down what you want in terms of long-term care and even after life planning. Do you want home care? Or would you prefer retirement in a swanky Retirement Community? Do you want to be buried or cremated? The best place to write it down is in a Health Care Power of Attorney. Imagine falling, hitting your head and having a stroke. The ambulance comes and picks you up. You cannot speak and your son gets the call. The hospital won’t discharge you home anymore because it is unsafe. The discharge planner wants to know where you should be discharged? Assisted Living Facility? If so, which one? Adult family home? The son’s home in Boston?
How does anyone know unless you communicate it? I suggest that you lay out your values in the health care power of attorney. It is an emergency document and likely to be available. If you really want to age at home, simply write that in the Power of Attorney. Not that hard.
For more information on the provisions that a Power of Attorney should have, check out this tutorial I made on Health Care Powers of Attorney. Click here to learn more!
Here is the article I had previously written. Embarassing!
“An important skill of a proficient caregiver is to have good communication between you and your loved one. Communication skills help caregivers to adapt to changing circumstances by enabling them to get and share information, ask questions, and stay connected to the other individuals involved.
It’s important to remember to include your loved one in the decision-making process whenever possible. Be sensitive to their preferences and feelings. Acknowledge his or her desires even if they are different from your own. It is normal for even the closest of families to experience a strained relationship during this time because it is not unusual for family members in need of care to resist help initially. A fear of losing independence, a mistrust of “strangers,” and concerns about money, can all come into play when making decisions. It is critical that your loved one feels that their voice is being heard and that you value their wishes.
**Tips for communicating with your loved one:
• Listen. We all want to be heard, and by acknowledging your loved one’s fears and concerns you will provide a measure of comfort. Try to find common ground and express agreement whenever possible. If you are both able to agree, it will be easier to find solutions that are acceptable to everyone.
• Know your limitations. A family member, parent, or significant other may want you to be their only caregiver. However, you as well as he or she must understand that this is not always possible. You may need help from other sources in order to provide the best care for your loved one.
• Ask for help. If your family member is resistant to receiving help or has an illness such as dementia that affects his or her judgment, consider accessing the services of a trusted third party such as a doctor or social worker to help in reviewing options and mediating the situation.”