Dear Mary
Simplifying Decision Making

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Dear Mary,

My Dad is having trouble making decisions, even simple ones. How can I help him?

Thanks,

Kimberly

Hi Kimberly:

Making decisions can be tricky. Sometimes medications makes this more difficult, or it is just a sign of getting older (trust me; there are times when this happens to me). Here is what I use to do when a decision was required.

Simple / Casual Decisions

Never ask an open ended question. Always pose a question with two options. Here is an example:

Instead of saying: “What would you like for lunch?” Ask:

“Would you like a tuna sandwich or a grilled cheese sandwich?” “Would you like mushroom soup or beef soup?” Let them pick one of your two options.

Complicated / Important Decisions

Important decisions do take some time and some thought. Take a piece of paper, and work with your parent to complete a PROS & CONS chart.

At the top of the page, write down the topic. Below the title, draw a line down the middle of the page, creating two columns. On the left column, write down “PROS” and “CONS” on the right column. You now have a format to complete together.

You should both contribute to the conversation by adding comments to both columns. Once completed, this chart may be referenced, reviewed, edited and chatted about at a later date. This written chart helps to clarify ideas and issues for both of you.

Parents often get frustrated and mad with themselves when the simple things seem so complicated. Asking questions with options lets you get timely, sound answers to simple decisions. Doing a PROS and CONS chart together, helps with complicated decisions.

Most importantly when asking for a decision, help your parent to:

  • maintain their integrity
  • stay engaged
  • be included in the decision making process

Any questions? (ok just joking)

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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