Long Term Care: 3 Reasons To Have The Talk Now-How To Do It

Written By Darin Ryburn

Long-term care is a difficult, yet necessary topic to talk about with loved ones as they age. But when is the right time to bring it up? Too soon, and someone gets offended. Too late, and the decisions become more difficult, with potentially fewer choices. Here are three good reasons why there is no better time than the present to have “the talk.” 

1. The sooner you talk, the better.

Long-term care is a sensitive topic for most people, especially aging parents who may be experiencing their own friends needing in-home care or a skilled nursing facility. However, like anything else, waiting until a situation is happening is not the best time to figure out what to do about it. After all, people do not start figuring out how to prevent their house from burning down after a fire starts; smoke alarms are installed when a home is built in order to ideally limit any damage or prevent a fire all together. Bringing up a topic does not mean everything needs to be decided during that first conversation. It may take several conversations before an aging or elderly person is willing to actually explore options, discuss finances, and make decisions. Keep an ear open for opportunities to have casual chats about long-term care as they arise. Make sure you approach the subject of long-term care from a place of love, kindness, and respect from the very beginning to ensure a smooth transition to the planning stage.

2. You are noticing subtle clues.

Are you the one who is hesitating to have “the talk” because it is too hard for you? If so, try to remember that being prepared ahead of time for any difficult situation is always better than not being prepared. If your elderly or aging parent is dropping hints or otherwise making it known that long-term care options are on his or her mind, do not ignore them. Even something as casual as “I sure don’t want to be in a nursing home someday,” said by an older person while watching a commercial about senior living residences is an opportunity to rise to the occasion. A good response might be, “Where do you see yourself living in 10 or 15 years?” Is your parent complaining about the stairs or that the house is too big? That is a clue that it may be time to talk about downsizing to a smaller, more easily accessible home or apartment. 

3. You are seeing actual warning signs.

One of the surest signs that it is time to have the talk about long-term care options is if you are seeing definite and specific changes in your older loved one, such as frequent falling, forgetting to take medicines, or a change in personal care habits or cognitive skills. For example, if your father has always been sharp with numbers, but starts bouncing checks or is late paying bills, he may be neglecting taking care of finances inadvertently (forgetting) or on purpose (avoiding because he is not sure how to do it). Also, do not assume that if one parent is still highly functioning and the other parent is not, the fully-functioning person is able to take care of more responsibilities or care for the parent who is showing signs of mental changes or physical impairment. Speak up when you have some privacy and find out if help would be welcomed, and if so, how that might best be handled.

Speaking to older loved ones about aging, options for long-term care, and end-of-life decisions may be difficult, but remember that waiting until the topic is forced upon a family during a crisis will be significantly harder. There is no better time than the present.

If you have questions about long-term care coverage or how NPFBA can help serve you, feel free to reach out to us via our website, phone, or email!

If you have questions about long-term care coverage or how NPFBA can help serve you, feel free to reach out to us via our website, phone, email or schedule a zoom meeting and let’s grab some face time!

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