Having the Talk: Long-Term Care

Guest Post by Sasha

I remember the first time I told my parents that I’d been asked out on a date. I remember them looking at each other, clearing their throats and sitting me down for “the talk.” Funnily enough, I remember less about the actual conversation than I do their obvious discomfort. (Well to be honest, I think my mother handled it a bit better than my father.)

Now I’m an adult, and my parents rely on me; they turn to me to discuss both financial and personal issues as they come up. They have come to count on me. And it’s occurred to me that there’s another “talk” to be had by us all; that of what they would wish for in their old age. It’s not an easy talk to have on either side. I have a hard time admitting that my parents are getting older, and sometimes I think they have a hard time admitting it themselves.

How to Approach The Long Term Care Talk With Parents

Here are a few thoughts on how to approach “the talk” about ageing and long-term care.

Be able to listen

Do you really know what challenges, daily and otherwise that your parents face? Don’t assume that you do, nor should you assume that you really know the state of their health. Be open to their wishes. Ask them what kind of future they envision.  If you come informed of options available, then you can start a discussion about needs, problems and what your parents hope for. This is about making their lives easier and more secure.

Make a Plan

Simple things can become insurmountable tasks in difficult times. Something as basic as compiling a list of people to contact in an emergency can become a stressful experience. This can easily be avoided by making a list of all emergency contacts, both family and professional and including doctors, lawyers and service-providers. Genworth recommends creating a phone-tree and sharing it with all involved before you need to use it.

 The Legal System

Are your parents up to date with all relevant legal documents? Those include a current will, a durable power of attorney (to enable someone to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf), a living will (with clear wishes for end-of-life care), and a power of attorney for health care (specifically toward medical decisions). Seek out trusted legal advice and make sure that it is appropriately administered when the time comes.

Home Sweet Home

Most of us would rather receive care in the comfort of our own homes, but sometimes adjustments need to be made. Are there any improvements that can be made to make living at home easier? Small things like rails in bathrooms, ramps and lifts might do a great deal to ease anxiety. Personal Care Assistants or Companions can aid with household care like cleaning and cooking, as well as provide a conduit to the outside world by running errands. Home Health Aides and nurses can provide more skilled support.

If in-home care isn’t viable, then what are the other possibilities? You’ll find that there are a great many options these days, from assisted living facilities to adult day health care center that provide daytime social and therapeutic activities. Some people prefer to live independently with on-site support for daily activities in an assisted living facility.  If skilled and intense care is needed, then a Nursing Home is the best option for skilled supervision, medication administration, therapies, and rehabilitation.

The High Cost of Care

Long-term care doesn’t have to be a debilitating burden to both you and your parents. There are many options for long-term care insurance. Know what policies are available and best for you and your family early on, as the cost of insurance is determined by location, facility, health status, and age of the policyholder. The cost of care today is rising beyond the rate of inflation. So is the cost of long-term care insurance. But a little communication and planning goes a long way towards creating security and peace of mind.

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