Talking about your care choices might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a lot to unpack in relation to our views about what it means to enter certain phases of life.
However, that doesn’t mean you should do without.
At ExSitu, we know the hardest part of care-based conversations is often how to start them. That’s why we’re taking the time today to help you advocate for your choices in a meaningful way.
Here’s a starter guide on encouraging people to support your care choices
Lead by example
One of the best ways to influence how other people perceive our decisions is to lead by example. That means having a little confidence and a little attitude when it comes to your care choices and what they mean to you.
Also, you can use yourself as a demonstration of positive connection with a particular choice.
In short, a little “I’m happy with my care choices – you should be, too” attitude can go a long way.
How do you harness this level of confidence when delivering big news?
- Stay on point. Being concise and specific about your care choices can help others understand how deeply you have thought about your options. If this means jotting down notes or bullet points or practicing what you are going to say with the cat or a mirror, do it. Whatever makes it easy for you to say what you need to say
- Don’t apologise. If you have thought about your options and would really like to move forward with your plans for retirement, aged care, treating your illness, managing your disability, or planning your end of life. This is a powerful and positive moment. Instead, look for the opportunity to inspire confidence in those choices through owning them
- Allow yourself the time and space to have your say. It’s OK to ask someone to let you finish instead of interrupting. It’s also OK to plan ahead and flag you’d like to chat about something ahead of time so that life doesn’t get in the way. You can also choose to discuss your care options over a couple of conversations instead of one big hit. Create the space and take the time you need to have the conversation you need.
- Personalise the situation. This is your choice, your story to tell and your moment to ask for the compassion, consideration and help you need. It’s perfectly fine to say things like, “I have decided” and “What I need going forward is…” Your care choices influence you the most. It’s OK to put yourself first and negotiate how that might work practically with another person’s plans second.
If you seem happy, confident and content with where you are going, it’s a lot more difficult to challenge or ignore your care choices.
Make it personal
Help is such a funny concept. We love giving it because it makes us feel valued and wanted. We love receiving it because it makes life easier.
Yet, many future helpers and help seekers are caught between their own awkward moments and assumptions. So much so, good people on both sides do without or delay the helping experience.
Let’s get this straight: Helping makes everyone feel good.
The trick is making it personal. Not transactional.
How do you make help a personal experience?
- Clarify the help you need. Come to the person with ideas of how they can help you in realistic terms and what it might involve
- Understand the helper and where their strengths lie. Outline why the person you are asking for help is perfect for the job. Highlight the skills, qualities and attitudes they possess that you believe you’d benefit from
- Avoid using guilt, shame or leverage. Instead, focus on the benefits such as spending time together, including them in processes, and let the person play to their strengths and make an informed decision
- Treat help as a gift, not as a burden or an entitlement. Helping each other brings us closer together when we accept it as part of a healthy relationship
- Be flexible in your terms. Giving a person enough time and the ability to accept help on their terms makes for a more successful helping experience.
And the best advice when personalising a conversation about your care choices? Let them in!
Be honest about what you’d like, where you believe you are headed, and what impact that person’s help could make for you.
Getting the H word out
All of our care choices rely on some changes to the relationship and routine we’ve established with the people closest to us. But if we’re not used to asking for help, it can be tricky to do so. That doesn’t make it impossible.
A couple of tips to remember when asking for help include:
- Use a simple phrase ‘I need your help.’ It opens the door, the ears and allows you start the conversation in a way that grabs the attention
- Ask for help as soon as you know you need it. Life is busy. The more time you give a person to help you, the more successful the chances of receiving a yes
- Be OK with being vulnerable. It’s OK to recognise that what you are asking might stir things up for you a little. Take your time when you talk
- Allow the person to feel their emotions. If someone is about to hear news for the first time, they will need time to adjust. That’s why allowing for time so you can talk it through is important
- Forget having all the answers. Sometimes, the help we need is determining what care choices are the best ones for us. Other times, they might rely on thought and input from other people. You don’t need to know everything before reaching out
- If you hear a no, try not to take it personally. It can be difficult to have a plan that includes someone who doesn’t want to be included after all. But their reasons are their own. We are the expert in our own lives. And if that person believes they are not the right person to offer the support you are asking for, it’s better to find that out earlier than later. Thank them for their honesty and move on.
Oh, and if you struggle with the phrase “I need your help,” you can also ask in some indirect ways:
“Would you like to come to my next appointment to understand more about my situation?”
“I’ve read this brochure or information on aged care/my condition/my choices but need a second set of eyes to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Would you mind taking a look at it for me?”
“It’d be great to have some company next week when I visit the doctor/the lawyer/aged care centre etc. Are you interested?”
“I have too many things to do at the moment. Can you take a look at my TO DO list and see if there is anything that interests you?”
“I got halfway through investigating my future care options but got stuck. Do you have time in the next few weeks to help me plan things?”
Need more help with asking for help? ExSitu can help you with plans that help define your goals, wishes and needs. Whether you are entering a care environment, planning for the next stage of life, or assessing what supports are available for you at end-of-life, we can help.