The Conversation Project, key resource in future planning


By Mina Wuchenich & Ed Vilade

Members, Caring Connections Committee

Can we talk about this? PLEASE? Do your loved ones or agents know what you want at your end-of-life? Not the will nor Advance Directives—those are on paper. Have you talked about what you want? Those you count on need to know these decisions from you and their own possible roles to help you implement them. The talk is important for you and for them. Caring Connections helps prepare people for decisions and CONVERSATIONS, “the other conversations” with loved ones or agents about their plans for the future. The 13-week course, Navigating As We Age: Changes and Choices, encourages us to have the talk, or talks, especially the more difficult ones. Our resource is The Conversation Project (TCP) to deal with the potentially fraught process of conveying our needs and wishes to those we trust to respect our needs and carry out our wishes.

TCP is vital in that, “talking-about-it,” part. This is a public engagement plan begun in 2010 by Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer Ellen Goodman, who convened a discussion group of experts to share stories of “good deaths” and “bad deaths” in their own experience.

That initial meeting led to the formation of TCP, staffed and advised by a distinguished group of physicians, educators, and other professionals. Their mission statement begins, “Too many people die in a manner they would not choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain…It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves….”

Visit for tools, guidance and research documents to guide us in the necessary conversations.

Caring Connections has organized those most relevant to Riderwood residents— now posted and printable on our website Search “Caring Connections.”  The Conversation Project links include:

• The Conversation Starter Kit

• Who Will Speak for You? How to choose and be a health care proxy

• Conversation Starter Kit for Loved Ones of People with Alzheimer’s/Dementia

• How to Talk to Your Doctor

We residents of Riderwood have initiated thousands of conversations on hundreds of tough or taboo topics. Except this one. We know how to do this. Now it’s time.

Those without computers can find print versions of Caring Connections resources, including The Conversation Project materials, on a special shelf at the Village Square Library.

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