Image Credit: Desperate Caregivers
Talking to your parents about what the aging process may be like is seldom easy. Often, strong emotions arise. Sometimes, there is fear, which can masquerade as denial or resistance. But talking with your family about each member’s long-term care needs is an essential part of taking care of one another. A particularly challenging issue often arises when parents begin to age and no provisions have been made. This can place a tremendous strain on the family personally and financially. This is also why it is important to talk with your parents about long-term care before a crisis hits.
If you feel hesitant to dive into a conversation with your parents about long-term care, these ideas can help.
- Talk about a friend instead. One of the best conversation openers is to wait until your parents mention a friend who is going through a long-term care issue. This offers a smooth segue into discussing your parents’ own long-term care wishes and offering to assist with research.
- Share an interesting article. If you find an interesting article on long-term care, sharing it with your parents and inviting their thoughts can be a gentle way to hear what their concerns and hopes are for their future.
- Ask for their advice. If you are beginning to think about your own long-term care needs, one of the best ways to talk with your parents is to ask for their advice. What have they done to plan? What do they advise you to do? Do they still have questions that are unanswered? If so, you can research them together.
- Ask for their wishes. Ask your parents what they hope their golden years are like. From here, you can ask more specific questions about how to make those wishes a reality.
- Ask about their family history. Many times doctors advise patients to research their family medical history as part of long-term care planning. When you ask your parents about their own parents’ and relatives’ medical and life history, you can then use that conversation to transition into a discussion about what they think they will need for their own future care and how you can help.
Advice for Having “The Talk”
Just as your parents probably searched for advice about how to talk to you as a child about tough subjects, it is normal to want to hear what others have done to approach a conversation about long-term care needs. Here is some advice that can help you take the conversation at whatever pace feels appropriate.
- Start slowly. Because conversations about aging and the future, finances and health can often feel jarring or even invasive, start slowly. Set very small, reasonable goals. If, when you talk, you are learning more about what your parents’ fears and hopes are and how you can help, you are making excellent progress.
- Share your own thoughts and feelings. Be sure to share your own respect and love for your parents during the conversation. This way, they will understand your motivations for initiating such a personal conversation.
- Recruit a sibling or family member to help. One great way to help ease into a conversation is to recruit a sibling or family member to attend the talk with you. This also offers you some support and shows your parents the whole family cares about their well-being and wishes.
- Ask a professional to assist. Whether you talk with an insurance and health care professional prior to talking with your parents or you invite them to the meeting, be sure you have done your own research as well.
The best way to achieve a positive outcome through facilitating a long-term care discussion with your parents is to do your best to stand in their shoes. This is also great practice for you since one day you will also need to make these types of decisions for yourself. If you follow these tips and express love and respect for your parents throughout, you can know you did everything in your power to help your parents prepare for their future long-term care needs.
About the Author: Sara Martin visited www.ltctree.com to research long-term health care before talking with her parents about their preferences. Sara’s initiative paved the way for a comprehensive care plan the whole family supports.