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Book of the Future

There are lots of conversations to be had about the future. Most of them are exciting, but some, often the really important ones, are emotional and difficult. Can we design a tool that helps start these conversations?

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There are lots of conversations to be had about the future. Most of them are exciting, but some, often the really important ones, are more daunting and often uncomfortable.

Who will take care of me? What do we expect from each other? How can I avoid feeling like a burden? What activities are important to me? In case I’m unable to live on my own, what are my options?

Maybe you’ve experienced, or know of someone who is having difficulties creating a good ageing environment for parents or other people they love. When there are so many feelings involved, it can be hard to have conversations about needs, expectations and worries. - especially after people’s health have deteriorated or someone has fallen ill. You don’t want to upset a struggling family member or friend more by having difficult conversations, so sometimes everyone ends up silently disappointed.

What if there was a tool to kick start these uncomfortable conversations earlier? The hardest part of talking about quite emotional issues is getting started, so could we create book that starts the conversations for us?

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

I’m happy to design the book, but I’d love to work with you guys in the OpenIDEO community about the content. At the moment, I’m not even sure if it should be a book, do you have other suggestions? What I like about a book is that it’s tangible and most people can read. I imagine it having a page dedicated to each question, with some space to take notes, and also filled with small stories, pictures and possibly even some humourous content so it stays an enjoyable experience, despite the difficult topics. What do you think? It would be great if you could share instances where you had difficult conversations with someone you love about the future. Or - can you share an example of a conversation you wish you’d had? What kind of questions would you like to ask your parent or friend regarding their need and your role in the future? Or, what conversations would you like to have with your children or immediate caregivers before it’s too late? My mum works with people suffering from dementia and their relatives, so I will ask her what issues people often find the hardest to talk about, or where most miscommunication happens. Do you have someone you can interview and ask about their expectations of the future and what worries them? It would be amazing if you’d share them in here. A massive virtual team would be great on this one!


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Photo of Annie Brown

I think this is a great idea, I can see a need for something like this. I tend to agree with Meena that a non-linear format, and therefore conversation, might be better... Maybe A5 cards with space for notes etc. on the back, but contained somehow so that they are still loose leaves that can be reordered.

I can see something like this being useful with my mum, who is 54, and with my grandmother who is 79. The questions are different of course, but I see a place with each of them.

The topics that come to mind from personal experience are: money, the financial situation my mother will be in come retirement age would be a great conversation to have. It would encourage her to actively think about this more, and put my mind at ease to know that she is thinking about it.

With my grandmother, the elephant in the room is funeral arrangements. She is fit and healthy, but has nagging away at her an uncomfortable situation that needs addressing: would she still prefer to be buried in the family ‘plot’ with her late husband and son as was always 'the plan', or would she prefer to make arrangements with her second husband of over twenty years (as she feels obliged to do). Painful conversations that need to be had. Also, her husband, although younger, is less able to live independently and she frets constantly that he will be forgotten and abandoned if she were to go first. This worry is not good for her, and I believe would be eased by having the conversation out in the open.

Another conversation that comes to mind is the care of a disabled family member, my mother works with adults with learning disabilities and Autism, and often sees painful family spats over who's responsibility it is to visit or care for the individuals my mum works with. She has commented before how situations like this, where family members fight causing upset for all, could be eased by having guided conversations and openly talking about what there options are.

That may have been a bit of an 'overshare' ;) but I think you may be onto something good here.....

Photo of Annie Brown

ooops *their options are

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