It’s often difficult for children to discuss long-term care with their aging parents. Older adults are often reluctant to discuss their finances and/or the notion of giving up their independence. Often, they may wish to simply spare their children the burden of planning. However, no matter how difficult the conversation may be, it’s a discussion which should always be held when there is still time to prepare.
Starting the Conversation
Children want what’s best for their parents, and eventually, they need to discuss how to handle their future care. However, starting a conversation about long-term care can be a challenge. When you are preparing to have this difficult talk with your parents, there are certain things that can make the discussion easier, including:
Setting a goal.
Know what you hope to accomplish when you first discuss long-term care. Is the goal to open the discussion and get everyone thinking about the future, or do you want specific decisions to be made?
Recognize that a conversation about long-term care can raise uncomfortable questions about mortality, autonomy, and what might be perceived as the loss of independence. Your parents may struggle to talk about long-term care just as you struggle to start the conversation. It’s likely you won’t resolve every concern in just one conversation. Be patient as you navigate what can be a sensitive subject.
Respecting your parents’ viewpoint.
While you may want to discuss your parents’ long-term care because you are concerned about their well-being, you should respect their perspectives, and let them know they are in control of the decisions being made.
What to Discuss
Once you’ve started the conversation about long-term care, another key to having a successful discussion is knowing what to discuss. You may want to consider the following:
How will you or your parents fund long-term care?
If your parents don’t intend to live with you when they’re older, it’s important to discuss finances and how long-term care will be paid for. The annual cost of a private nursing home room is approximately $100,000. Home care is about $50,000. Know your parents’ financial situation and what they can afford. If you haven’t already, help your parents with Medicare and Social Security applications.
Will your parents need to move into an assisted living facility?
If you believe your parents may need to move into an assisted living facility, look at nearby options, make a few phone calls, and try to determine the costs of housing and care.
Do your parents have any advance health care directives?
If your parents do not have a will or have not designated anyone power of health care attorney, they may need to do so. A will is not just a document for asset distribution; it can also be used to make decisions about how a person wants to be cared for when their health is failing.
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