Last time, I wrote about the changes in an aging loved one’s emotional and physical health that family members might notice at the holidays. If a face-to-face holiday visit is the first one in a number of months, a decline in health may be both obvious and startling.
The prospect of a difficult conversation can be so daunting that the conversation is postponed. It can be tempting to try to delude yourself that a decline is a temporary setback when you actually know that it isn’t or that nothing needs to be discussed right now because there is no crisis — yet.
In fact, the most valuable action is to start a conversation, which is likely to be the first of many. Sometimes the conversation is not as bad as the dread of it and it is a relief to the older person to start to address his or her changing needs. Often the conversation that is started earlier rather than later will allow for a deeper exploration of preferences and a wider review of options.