Question: My wife was just diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. I want her to talk with me about planning ahead for her own care, but she says she would rather live in the moment and enjoy the time she has. How can I convince her to start making plans and talk with me about what her wishes are?
I think you have really touched on the age-old debate between living in the moment versus planning ahead. These are two different schools of thought on how to handle life. The diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment certainly brings this subject to the forefront because it is a signal that cognitive changes have started in your wife. Your wife’s diagnosis does increase her risk of developing a more severe dementia that impairs her daily functioning. The question becomes, does she use the time to enjoy her life and maybe do some items on her “bucket list”, or does she use the time while she can think clearly to make a plan for her end-of-life and get her wishes in order.
This topic is very important and the Home Helper’s Conejo Cares 5th Caregiver Recognition Day Event, hosted by Senior Concerns held on March 20th will have a segment to address this very topic. Professionals in the field will have a chance to debate these two schools of thought and share their opinions on both sides. This is a valuable event for you to attend to gain some information that will help you in caring for your wife. The event will also premier a short video featuring Kerri Kasem that addresses the need and value of end-of life-planning and of having those conversations with your family. The event held at Los Robles Greens in Thousand Oaks is $15 and requires advance registration. To register for the event visit www.seniorconcerns.org/caregiver-recognition-day/ or call 805-497-0189.
I believe there are positives to both sides of this debate and in talking with your wife it’s important for you both to understand the other’s views. I imagine both of you are feeling some fears about this new diagnosis. She may be afraid for her future and what this means for her quality of life. Talking about care needs or end-of-life might cause her to experience stress and worry. Her coping mechanism may be to focus on the positive and only talk about the now.
You, on the other hand, may need to talk about the realities of what is to come, examine the options and make a plan. This may be part of your coping mechanism, creating order to cope with the fear of the unknown.
Both of you have valid reasons for thinking about the future in your own way. I encourage you to share each other’s points of view and compromise. Create space for both ideas. Explain what you need to feel secure in what may come next. Keep the conversation light and don’t put all the focus on your wife. Both of you can and should make your wishes known.
Ask your wife what she needs from you now. What does it mean to her to enjoy the time she has? Together you can find ways to have both of your needs met. The goal is to reduce stress for you and your wife both now and in the future.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, Feb. 21 from 3:30p.m. to 5:00p.m..: Adult Coloring at the Thousand Oaks Grant R. Brimhall Library, 1401 E Janss Rd. Thousand Oaks. Bring your friends or make some new ones while spending a relaxing afternoon coloring.
Friday, Feb. 28 at 7p.m.: Gary Sinise to discuss his career at the Preus-Brandt Forum at 135 Chapel Lane in Thousand Oaks. Cal Lutheran’s Theater and Dance department is presenting the event. Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor Gary Sinise will speak as a featured guest of the “Conversations with…” series. No reservations required. For more information call 805-493-3542.
Saturday, Feb. 29 at 9a.m.: A Community Conversation on Aging at the Santa Paula Community Center at 530 W. Main Street in Santa Paula. As part of the countywide series of community conversations this event will help shape the Ventura County’s Master Plan on Aging. Translation services will be available for individuals who speak Spanish. For more information call 805-933-4226 ext. 356.