A friend recently had spine surgery that took 5+ hours. After regaining consciousness, she found herself in the recovery unit…for the next 26 hours! Groggy from the anesthetic and not knowing whom to talk to, she languished there until a friend arrived and raised hell. She subsequently learned that private rooms were available throughout the 26 hours, but somehow the Recovery Unit staff wasn’t aware of any. When they finally wheeled her to a private room, she waited another hour for the room to be cleaned.[Read more…]
Like many of you, I have an Advanced Care Directive comprising a Living Will and Health Care Proxy (or Power of Attorney) to make decisions for me if I lose my capacity to do so. I live in a jurisdiction (the District of Columbia) that permits physician-assisted death. My family and I have discussed my health care values and preferences. If I ever have a mind crippling illness and had earlier told my family and physician my preference not to continue living in that situation, my family and doctor know what to do. Right? Wrong!
My last blog listed types of listeners. From the ‘pouncer’ to the ‘monopolizer.’ Now, on a more positive note, this post suggests ways to enhance conversation. The first (and for me) most challenging step calls on us to become empathic listeners. I came across this term in an article by Dr. Tammy Lenski* who attributed it to author Steven Covey. For Covey “empathic listening is listening from the other person’s frame of reference. Only empathic listening comes from a desire and commitment to listen without an agenda (emphasis added).”
Developing the “mental muscle” to listen empathically takes practice. Give it a shot the next time you’re engaged in dialogue. In addition, consider these techniques to enrich your exchanges:
One of the topics Carolyn and I discuss in our presentations about our new book Love’s Way involves Listening. Most of us don’t listen well. And even when we think we are listening, we sometimes fall into one of the following categories:
The Pouncer: This non-listener is waiting for the other speaker to pause just long enough to inject his point into the conversation. The speaker may be in the middle of conveying a thought, but hesitated to take a breath or sip some water. That’s the moment the pouncer has been waiting for: to take charge of the conversation.
Q: How do you convince a family member or friend to change when your relationship seems to be headed for a cliff?
A: You can’t change someone else. But you may be able to change your relationship. Here are three questions to ask yourself:
1. What’s my contribution?[Read more…]
Everyone needs a will, but less than half of American adults have one. The young think they’ll live forever. Or they don’t have any wealth to worry about. But if you have a child or own a home, you need a will.
A May 18, 2016 Gallup poll found 44% of all adults had wills. But likelihood depended on age, education, and economic status. The percentage rose to 75% of upper-income (above $75,000 per year) college educated Americans 55 and older. That’s good news.
In Part I we named two reasons older adults might not have a will: (a) we can’t bear to contemplate our own death; and (b) we can’t decide how to distribute our wealth. Here are other reasons:[Read more…]
In our book Love’s Way: Living Peacefully With Your Parents As Your Parents Age we urge readers to have a will. This is nothing new. Everyone above the age of thirty knows they need one.
Nevertheless, many people, from show-biz stars like Prince and Aretha Franklin, to legal giants like a Supreme Court Justice whose name I can’t reveal, have died intestate.
Might this be you? Of course, you, like they, know better. Then why haven’t you made a will?
Talking with your doctor (provider) is not just about what ails you. It’s more. Lot’s more. Let us count the ways:
First, a patient should know his or her health goals, or seek help in defining them, especially as she or he advances in years. For example, if you became severely ill, even mortally ill, how much ‘heroic effort’ would you want your doctor to provide? You should understand your medical options in case a health crisis occurs. Bottom line: What quality of life would you want were you severely ill with questionable chances of recovery?[Read more…]
We are excited about the imminent release of our book, Love’s Way: Living Peacefully with Your Family As Your Parents Age, and hope our readers find what we wrote valuable. Like other writers we are often asked to sum up what our book is about. Love’s Way covers so much ground it’s hard to sum up our theme in a few words.
For example, a sympathetic reporter from a local paper asked me: “What is the crux of your book?” Her question stopped me cold in my tracks. The crux of our book? I never thought of our book having a “crux,” but rather a continuum: Starting with the scourge of ageism, we highlight such topics as sibling relations, assumptions, forgiveness, legal concerns, care giving, and end with death and dying. A kind of arc of issues that frame how aging has and will continue to impact families.
But the crux? In as few words as possible I’d venture to write: “Our book addresses the impact that a parent’s aging can have on families, and how they can respond with love, understanding, and empathy.” We hope our book will bring families closer together as they accompany one another through life.
- Bring Flowers, Not Assumptions
What’s easier than holding preconceived notions about others? They can parade through our minds as if on auto-pilot. Try to erase your set notions about those who will join you for the festivity. Instead, attend the event with a clean slate… and a bouquet of flowers for the host.