We hope you'll find some answers here.

Click on any of the questions below to expand our answers.
If you would like more information or would like to speak with one of our Designated Facilitators, please click on the purple button to send us an email.  We’d love to hear from you.

What are life transition issues?

Caregiving, estate planning, wills, inheritance, end-of-life choices, and day-to day issues, such as when to stop driving or where to live, are just some of the issues that can arise as family members age.

What is an Essential Conversation?

We help families address life transitions by using a conversation method to guide dialogue between an older adult, their family members, and others who lend support with aging issues.

Why do families need to have a conversation?
Many issues of aging occur suddenly and families often struggle to communicate effectively, particularly when in a stressful situation.  An Essential Conversation helps families be proactive in making decisions and plans before a crisis occurs.
Why does this matter?

When a crisis hits an aging person, they, along with their family, are often thrown into turmoil where emotions run high, tension is augmented, and relationships are strained. We believe the well-being of a family is at stake at these times and much of the breakdown in communication can be avoided through having proactive discussions.

What will having an Essential Conversation achieve?

We help to ensure a family’s collective well-being through guiding proactive conversations.  Practical decisions and workable plans can be developed together, allowing everyone to be aware and more prepared for what lies ahead.

Who participates?
The older adult at the focus of discussion, family members, caregivers, doctors, or other support people, such as close friends, neighbors, or ongoing care providers – anyone who is recognized as being an important contributor – all might be involved.   Collectively, these key people are the best resources for managing an individual’s and the family’s well-being.
Who decides who participates?

A Designated Facilitator will help you will identify the key people who should be involved in an Essential Conversation.  Everyone should have a chance to be heard, including the older adult who is at the center of the discussion.

What makes this process different?
Rarely is the family as whole given proper attention when managing life transitions.
We believe that everyone involved in the care of a loved one should have the opportunity to contribute ideas and participate in the aging experience.
How does it work?
Our Essential Conversations Project Designated Facilitators work with family members to determine a specific issue that needs to be addressed.  They will then meet individually with the older adult, if possible, and each of the people considered a key contributor.
The Facilitator will then guide one or more group discussions until decisions can be made and a workable plan created.
Why do we need a Facilitator?
Often, families need the help of a third party, non-partisan person to guide a group conversation.  Our Facilitators act as the ‘agent of reason’ to help keep everyone focused on the topic being discussed.  We feel the issues of aging are for sharing and our Facilitators want to help families strengthen relationships and stay connected.
The definition of a Facilitator's role vs. Therapist, Counselor, or Coach

There are various options when seeking help for issues you may encounter in your life.

Mediator:  Helps those already involved in conflict to come to agreement

Therapist:  Reviews past relationships and experiences and the effect these might have on current problems

Counselor:  Provides advice or instruction for personal, social, or psychological difficulties

Coach:  Assists with creating change in a purposeful way with individuals, in relationships, or for organizations

Facilitator:  Brings people together to establish common ground and provides guidance, while encouraging the sharing of perspectives and idea generation.

(Our Designated Facilitators are trained in a proven methodology that is unique and specific to the Essential Conversations Project.)

All of these professionals may not provide the ‘answers’ to any given situation or problem.  They will help an individual or group to come to an understanding of what is possible and guide to a more positive future.

Why can't someone just tell us what to do?

One’s own family is the most underutilized resource for ideas and assistance.  The best plans will be actually put into practice, if they are made by all the people involved.

How long will it take?
Each Essential Conversation is unique and might involve different key people.  Typically, individual meetings are for an hour each.  Then, the length of a group discussion can vary, as every family has different styles of communication.  Depending on the complexity of the topic being addressed, developing plans might take more than one group meeting.
Will we solve everything at one time?

Life transition issues are wide-spread and each separate topic may require a different Essential Conversation.  By staying focused on one topic at a time, everyone has a chance to be heard and workable plans can be agreed upon.

What does it cost?

All of our Designated Facilitators are individual practitioners who are trained in the Essential Conversation process.  The rates they charge will be similar to what you can expect from a therapist or coach.  We highly recommend getting in touch to discuss your family’s unique situation and the Facilitator will let you know in advance an estimate for helping your family discuss an issue.

Does everyone need to be in the same room?
An Essential Conversation does work very well when everyone can get together in the same place.  However, we understand that sometimes this is very difficult to achieve.
So, it is possible, with the help of technology, to include someone via an internet conference, such as Skype, Hangout, or Facetime.  Depending on your family’s situation and the topic being discussed, you can decide whether this type of interaction will allow for the best outcome.
Where do conversations happen?
Your family can choose the best locations to meet.  Individual and group conversations should occur wherever everyone feels most comfortable talking about personal matters.  Our Facilitators can meet individually in your home, at your office (if you have access to a private area, such as a meeting room), at a coffee shop (if it’s ok for the topic of discussion to be overheard), or another location can be arranged, if needed.  We do find it’s often most comfortable for the older adult to have a group conversation in their home.
Memory-related disorders

An Essential Conversation can help families proactively navigate the difficult decisions which arise upon receiving a dementia diagnosis, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Our Financial Services Partner

BMO Bank of Montreal
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