How to Talk to Your Family About Long-Term Care

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The holidays are upon us which means you’ll likely be spending extra time with your loved ones. It will be tempting to keep it lighthearted and not talk about awkward or hard stuff. Most people want to avoid talking about needing extended care, but since you’ll all be together, it’s a prime time to talk with your family about the topic.

An extended care situation could derail your retirement and your family’s lives, so it’s crucial to plan ahead. When an extended care event happens, it doesn’t just affect one person, it affects the family: physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. When you talk with your family about your long-term care wishes and retirement plan, it can lead to a better future by reducing future burdens and stress.

When Should You Talk About It and Plan for Care?

Before the need of care arises and while everyone is still healthy.

Here are 5 Important Tips for the Conversation:

1. Be Prepared

Before talking with your family, do some research. Where could you receive care and who do you want to provide it? What options are available? How will you pay for the care?

2. Choose a Good Time and Environment

Family gatherings or life events like drafting legal papers are good opportunities. Choose a place to have the conversation where people are comfortable, usually that means a private setting like your home.

3. Stay Positive

Tell your loved ones how much you care about them and your genuine concerns. Remind them that having a plan helps to stay in control of care options as much as possible.

4. Be a Good Listener

Parents, kids, and loved ones need to really listen to each other’s concerns and wants. Show respect and acknowledge your loved one’s choices.

 5. Ask for Help

Planning for extended care is a team effort. Reach out to professionals who can help answer questions and offer guidance. If you                        haven’t drafted an estate plan or updated it for years, reach out to your attorney or find one that can help. If you don’t have a LTCI                    policy to provide protection and leverage, talk to a Long-term care insurance specialist to see if it’s the right fit for you. Your local Elder Care Planning Council, Area Agency on Aging, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, home care agencies, and facility locators are other good resources too.


How Do You Have the LTC Conversation? What Do You Talk About?

A great question to start discussing is:

If your health becomes compromised and you lose function or mobility, what do you want to happen?

Considering that question, there are 4 important areas to discuss in your LTC plan:

  • Care
  • Caregiving
  • Finances
  • Legal matters.

These areas will cover the Who, What, Where, and How of the extended care situation. Discuss what planning you have already done in these areas.

1. Care

Where would you prefer to receive care – at home or in a facility? Do you have a potential home care agency or facility that you’ve considered? Will you retire in your current city or move?

2. Caregiving

Who will provide care for you? Do you want your spouse or other family members to physically provide care for you OR do you want them to supervise your care? Do they want to be and are they able to be involved? What would your kids have to give up if they had to provide care for you? Who will coordinate your care? Most parents are reluctant about having their kids provide care for them and usually the kids would rather supervise or coordinate care versus providing it.

3. Finances

How much are care costs where you plan to retire? How will you pay for the costs of care? Who is your financial advisor? Do you have a LTCI policy? If so, how much coverage do you have? Will you self-fund a portion of your care costs? If so, what accounts will you withdraw money from? Who has the authority to manage your finances and pay bills? What health insurance do you have?

4. Legal Matters

Do you have an estate plan with a will, living will, trust, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney? Who is your attorney? Where are these important documents? Who has the authority to discuss medications and treatment and talk to your doctors? Who are your doctors?

Give contact info and details to your family in all of these areas!


The Bottom Line

Having a plan won’t eliminate the consequences of a LTC situation, but a plan will help to reduce the burdens. When there isn’t a plan, family members are put in difficult positions of needing to make tough health and financial decisions for an ill family member. Share your intentions, expectations and plan with your family and encourage them to share their thoughts with you.


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