How do I talk with my loved one about difficult topics (medical treatments, finances, end-of-life issues)?
Question 1 of 4 (use "Last" or "Next" buttons to see more)
Last Update: August 16, 2006
If you are caring for a loved one with Medicare, it is important that you talk to her about the “what-ifs” before a crisis happens. What if she becomes very sick? What if she can no longer live at home? What if she can no longer communicate her wishes? What would happen then?
These are tough topics to bring up, but the discussions are critical to have so that you can
- find out whether financial safeguards are in place to ensure that your loved one always receives quality health care;
- make sure that your loved one has the legal documents necessary to guarantee that she always gets the medical treatment she would prefer and that her feelings about life-sustaining treatments are honored;
- find out where she keeps important personal, medical and financial documents—information that could play a role in determining what kind of care she gets.
Here are some tips to help you talk to your loved one about difficult topics:
- Think about what you want to say ahead of time. Also think about how your loved one might react to your bringing up different subjects.
- Pick a good time to talk. Try to pick a time when neither of you is in a hurry.
- Ask questions and listen. Your biggest concern may be how to pay for health care in the future; your loved one may be worried about other aspects of growing older. Being empathetic to her concerns may make her more receptive to your suggestions.
- Be clear and concise. If there is an elephant in the room, address it. For example, if it is clear you will soon need to explore assisted living options, get to the point.
- Respect your loved one’s opinions. She may not always agree with you. If you respect her opinion, she may come around to your side, or be open to exploring alternative solutions.
- Do not try to get to everything. You may have many issues you want to discuss. It is possible your loved one may not want to talk now, or will change the subject after a while. View your first conversation as opening the door for future conversations.
- Bring someone else in on the conversation. Could a family member or friend act as an interested but unbiased third party?
For general tips on what you should know if you are caring for a loved one with Medicare, click on the link in the GO TO box.
For tips on what to know about your loved one’s insurance and finances, click on the links in the GO TO box.
For tips on what you should know about your loved one’s health, click on the NEXT button.