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“The Conversation Project” Breaks Ground August 28, 2012

Posted by ijwoods in Blog+.
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Some of you know that the purpose of this blog site is to get people talking with their loved ones about preparations for an end of life situation. After my caregiving experience with someone very dear to me I became keenly aware of the importance of having such a conversation and how much it can help the non-professional caregiver as well as the one being taken care of.

The reality is that almost all of us will enter into a caregiving situation once or multiple times in our life. I recently saw a quote by Rosalyn Carter that says it very well, “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers”. Caregiving is not something we will be exempted from unless, I suppose, we are living alone in a remote cave in the jungle.

As our population continues to age, many Boomers are now finding themselves caregiving for their parents. Increasingly, the Boomers will need to be taken care of as well. K was a Boomer, as am I, giving me some insight to what lies ahead for many of us; and with the huge population of boomers, caregiving will become massive. As ominous as that might sound I happen to see something exciting about it.

I feel that, like everything else boomers have touched and focused on, they will dive into this area with intense passion and quicken an evolution in the way caregiving happens. I see a future for caregiving with some wonderful and more widely accepted norms: easy access to information, a more conscious approach towards the comfort of a dying person, dying at home becoming the overwhelming preference, a respect and greater understanding for a person’s internal journey and greater awareness of what the dying person wants. Much of this is already here, but I don’t sense that it has become mainstream – I believe the overwhelmingly large populations of Boomers will probably make it so.  Over the next decade we will likely see a more commonplace acceptance of our mortality rather than fear.  There will be a recognition that our process of departure can be something as magical as the day we arrived.

Back in April CNN had an article entitled “Caregiving for loved ones, the ‘new normal’ for Boomers.

“Trying to create the best possible quality of life for an aging relative is “the new normal” for 43.5 million Americans caring for someone older than 50, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

 …With about 10,000 baby boomers hitting age 65 each day, they’re becoming caregivers and also those needing care. With people living longer than ever, this is the first generation that might care for its parents as long as it cared for its children, experts said.

 Now that more baby Boomers are aging, the issue of family caregiving is becoming much more commonplace. We call it the ‘new normal,'” said Lynn Feinberg, senior policy adviser for AARP.”

So, what’s inspired me to write all this? Last week I came across an amazing article that I really want to share with you. The article takes us right into the middle of the kind of initiative that I am sure we will see more of over the next decade. The initiative, called The Conversation Project,  helps provide some framework to the type of conversation I’ve been advocating on this site. It’s one thing to want to have a conversation, but it’s another to figure out how to go about it. The Conversation Project brings some structure and thought to having such a conversation.

This article is both a radio piece and a transcript and I strongly encourage you to take in both. The piece was done on WBUR in Boston, a public radio station.  It contains a beautiful conversation between a father and daughter about end of life decisions. The father is 85, and in good health. He’s a widower.

The piece begins by referring to a recent survey by the California Health Foundation* reporting that 60% of people feel it is important to have an end of life discussion with their loved one(s) but that only 56% have actually conveyed their wishes. The Conversation Project  is a national initiative that has just been launched and was created to help get families and loved ones talking about the kind care they want at the end of their lives. In the article we are invited into a very personal and intimate conversation.

Here’s the article. It’s a beauty:      Let’s Discuss Dying: ‘The Conversation’ About How My Dad Wants To Go

  • Although the announcer  said the survey was conducted by the California Health Foundation I couldn’t find it  in my searches. I did find the California HealthCare Foundation that, in  fact, did a survey regarding the discussion of End of Life treatment.   Here’s a link to the report on the foundation’s site: Poll Finds Wide Gap Between the Care Patients Want and  Receive at End of Life


1. bethhavey - August 28, 2012

Wonderful piece. Thanks so much. Meaningful and yet giving me hope that I can learn something and live it also. Beth

2. “The Conversation Project” Breaks Ground | Chris MacLellan - August 28, 2012

[…] “The Conversation Project” Breaks Ground. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

3. Chris MacLellan "The Bow-Tie-Guy" - August 28, 2012

Reblogged this on The Purple Jacket.

4. blessedbebeth - Middlescapes.com - August 29, 2012

I can feel your excitement and enthusiasm. Thanks for uncovering another great find. woohoooooo.

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