Aging Loved Ones – the LTC Conversation

POSTED ON: August 1, 2022

Aging Loved Ones – the LTC Conversation

We all know that our aging loved ones need to plan for their potential long-term care needs. However, it can feel uncomfortable to discuss this subject with them. People often select a senior living arrangement, like an assisted living facility or a nursing home, based on location and convenience. Nevertheless, the safety and well-being of your aging loved ones are as essential as geographical convenience, when evaluating their options.

Here are a few suggestions about how to have a discussion with aging loved ones about their long-term care planning:

Avoid Procrastination

It is best to plan and prepare for any significant life event well in advance, rather than scrambling and making decisions in a crisis mode. Moving from one’s home, regardless of age, is a “significant” life event! Talk with your aging loved ones, before they need to make the transition to long-term care. This will help take much of the emotion and anxiety out of the equation.

It can be stressful enough, when you know you need to do something. It is even worse when you do not even know how to get started. In short, it is easy to procrastinate. Once you take the first step and open the dialogue, that worry can go away. The earlier you have the initial conversation, the more time you will have to research long-term care facilities without undue pressure.

Prepare Talking Points

You can do some general research about nearby facilities, using your knowledge of your aging loved ones to guide you. For example, if they are not particularly “religious,” a long-term care center run by a particular faith group might not be a good fit. On the other hand, if they love young children, you might want to look for an assisted living center that integrates visits with children from a local daycare into its scheduled activities.

Gather materials from several facilities and ask your aging loved ones whether they have any potential interest in any of them. However, before you invest more than a few hours into the information-gathering stage, ask them whether they already have strong feelings about where they want to live.

Small Steps

You do not need to engage in a marathon session to discuss every aspect of long-term care and reach a final decision. The “elephant” does not need to be consumed in one bite. One of the advantages of initiating a long-term care conversation before a crisis, is having time to talk through and evaluate options at a comfortable pace. Hurried decisions made under pressure, often lead to future regrets.

Each of these topics can be a separate conversation with your aging loved ones:

  • Mention any of their relatives, friends, and acquaintance who have moved into some form of long-term care facility. Ask if they have a preference about options like in-home assistance, assisted living, a senior living community, or a “continuum of care” arrangement.
  • You can ask if they have any specific facilities in mind. If they say yes, you can offer to collect more information and arrange a visit of the facilities together.
  • After visiting several locations, you can offer to brainstorm with your aging loved ones, always leaving the ultimate decision to them.

Respect Their Right to Choose

In the end, your aging loved ones do not need someone to dictate where they will live and when they will live there. No matter how well-intentioned, treating them as helpless and vulnerable may cause resentment and lead them to reject the idea of moving into long-term care before it does reach the crisis stage.

Knowing that a plan is in place can give you and your aging loved ones peace of mind, so proceed at a pace that is comfortable for all involved. Open communication is a must.

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