How to Talk to Your Loved One about Long-term Care

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” Of course, planning for your loved one’s long-term care can be difficult. Conversations are the most important start to planning long-term care for your loved ones, but they can be tricky. With so many emotions involved, how do you start a productive discussion about the future? While there’s no clear script to follow, there are several tips you should keep in mind.

  • Be ready: Start by looking into different long-term care options, such as home care or assisted living, as well as the necessary paperwork for each option. Familiarize yourself with the prices and questions you should ask. Be sure to check in with yourself before the conversation starts. A few questions you can ask are “what is most important to me?” “am I ready for this?” and “how would I want this conversation to go if I were in my loved one’s position?”
    Keep in mind that these discussions may take longer than you currently expect.  Also, consider who should be present as you talk: groups can provide support, but also be pressuring if they get too large. Find a quiet area to talk that is free of distractions. It may help to lookup services in the area ahead of time as a beginning point. 
  • Start early and keep an open mind: While difficult times are the last thing you may want to discuss right now, the sooner you start the better. These conversations will take time and will involve a lot of thought and planning. Look carefully into each option and talk frankly with your loved ones about what is best for them. There are a host of resources to describe these options, and looking into the pros and cons of each choice will help you begin your search. You and your loved ones may need time to consider these options and think about what’s best.
  • Voice your feelings: Empathy is your friend throughout these discussions. Remember the Golden Rule: how would you like to be treated if you were in your loved one’s shoes? If you feel passionate about a topic based on fear or concern, be sure to let them know. It always helps to remind everyone involved that you love them and want what’s best for them. On the other hand, be ready to hear and address their feelings as well. Remind yourself that no one will agree completely, but different opinions do not make someone wrong.
  • Prepare yourself and your loved ones: Bringing long-term care to the home or moving to a long-term care facility will be a transition for all involved. Chances are your parent or loved one has not experienced these circumstances in many, many years. Look into testimonials from others to know what to expect, and share that information with everyone else. Keep in mind that you will be impacted as well, so you may want to inform those close to you you will be going through a difficult time. If your plan involves moving your loved one to a new location, such as an assisted care facility, try to tour it ahead of time and ask questions about favorite activities. The more information you can find, the easier the transition will be.
  • Make a clear plan: The closer you get to implement your plan, the more small decisions will arise. Answering as many questions as you can ahead of time will make those choices easier. A common mistake is not making plans after the transition occurs. Establishing a routine can add comfort to change. If you’re worried about a lack of communication, for example, try setting up a certain time to call.
  • Work together: You and your loved ones are partners in this planning stage. This dynamic may be different than the one you are used to, so you may want to set up some ground rules. Keep in mind that this choice will impact you both, so work to find decisions that help you both. When working together you have to listen to one another, especially when that gets difficult. Remember at the end of the day that you have a common goal in mind.
  • Be ready for change: As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, even the best-laid plans can run into complications. Keep in mind that circumstances may change for any of the parties involved and plans will need to change with them.

We know that creating long-term plans for your loved ones can be painful or difficult. While the conversation may be hard, starting now can only help further down the road. If you would like further information about long-term care options in the Colorado area, we offer a free consultation.

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