Living Wishes Guide: How to Start ACP Conversations with Our Parents

How to Start ACP Conversations with Our Parents

Many of us may feel unqualified to initiate ACP conversations with our parents and prefer to leave it to a professional. However, the older generation may hesitate to make their wishes known as they are afraid of becoming a burden to their children. As such, you play an important role in helping your parents do ACP. 

To help you get started, here are 5 ways to casually initiate ACP conversations with your parents.

#1: Bring up news reports related to mortality and death

Sharing the latest news relating to death and mortality with our parents can help open them up to the topic. As they share their opinions relating to the news article, we can take the opportunity to flip the perspective and ask them what they would have preferred in that scenario. This helps to ease them into the conversation, where you can then ask them about their personal values and future care wishes as well.

#2: Share experiences of someone in your social network falling sick or passing away

Another way to start the conversation is to share about the experience of someone within your social network. This could be about a friend or family member who had fallen ill or passed away. 

Reflecting on others’ experiences presents an opportunity for us to find out what our parents’ values and wishes are. For example, we can ask them what they would prefer if they were in that scenario and who they would want to make care decisions for them in the future.

#3: Discuss scenarios in movies with mortality or death themes

Movies and shows have a strong emotional impact on many of us. After watching a scene that portrays a character’s death, we can ask our parents about their thoughts. Starting the discussion with a movie can help make them feel more comfortable sharing their own personal values and care preferences.

Apart from scenes portraying a character’s death, movies that touch on illnesses and mortality can also be conversation starters. We have compiled a list of 6 movies to start ACP conversations with your parents to help you get started.

#4: Reflect on song lyrics related to familial relationships and mortality

Music has the power to express emotions that we may otherwise not have the words for. We can start the conversation by sharing how the song made us feel, before asking our parents’ about their feelings and what their preferred care choices, personal values or perspective on death and dying are.You may choose to use any song that speaks to you. To help you get started, we have curated a list of 12 songs to start ACP conversations.

#5: Use the Living Wishes Conversation Starter Kit

Another way to start the conversation is through a bonding activity. We’ve developed a Conversation Starter Kit aimed at helping adults like you reflect on your familial relationships and discuss your parents’ preferred care choices, personal values and perspective on death and mortality.

Details on our Conversation Starter Kit will be available on our ACP Conversations page from 13th February 2022. If you’re keen to get a free Conversation Starter Kit for yourself, stay tuned to our Facebook page. (Psst – we’ll be having a giveaway very soon!)

Living Wishes Tips to Start the Conversation

Having ACP Conversations with your parents is one of the best ways to understand and honour their wishes in the future. It is important to remember that an ACP discussion is not only about end-of-life preferences – it is a deeper conversation to reflect on life, mortality, values and relationships. Having this discussion can help you improve your relationship and communication with your parents.