Discussing your parents potential need for long-term care may not be an easy conversation to start. To begin, your concerns may be very different. While your parents may be concerned about whether or not they can stay in the family home and what challenges they will face, your concerns may focus on their safety, how you will handle a crisis and their ability to afford the long-term care they need.
Both sets of concerns are grounded in concern over what the future may hold for your parents. Although you may approach it in different ways, the key is to start planning for long-term care as soon as possible. Planning in advance of when it is needed can afford more solutions than when you wait until a crisis to take action, although there are options in a crisis as well. Bear in mind, this is rarely a wasted effort as research tells us over fifty percent of those who turn sixty-five years old will now need some form of long-term care during their lifetime.
How should you begin this conversation with your aging parents? What do you need to discuss right away? Where do you start? Let us share a list of possible ways to begin this conversation that we tell our clients, friends, family, and the community professionals we work with.
1. What would you do in a crisis? What you may think is necessary in a crisis may be very different from what your parents think is important. All of us handle a crisis differently. Start this conversation by discussing with your parents what they would like to have happen if they were suddenly unable to make their own decisions, to live safely at home, or need to rely on outside care.
2. Is your estate planning current? Long-term care planning needs to be completed by someone with the authority to do so. This begins with your parents making their own decisions but, in a crisis, if plans were not made, this responsibility will fall on their decision maker. It is critical that your parents’ estate planning both reflects who they want to make their choices and provides the legal authority to take action.
3. What type of long-term care options appeal to you? Your parents may not know the types of long-term care that are available in your community. From home health care solutions to assisted living facilities, your parents may not understand what they could benefit from as well as what it may cost. Do not wait to take a look at the Genworth Cost of Care Survey that provides many of the alternatives available in Connecticut.
4. What can you afford right now? Many seniors today are surprised by both the monthly cost of long-term care and that Medicare will not pay for most of it. Talk to your parents about their finances as well as whether or not they have a long-term care insurance policy that may help them be able to afford these costs. With this foundation, you can work with an elder law attorney to not only determine the type of care you may need but also to develop a plan to be able to access public benefits to help you afford it.
5. What legacy would you like to leave? It was most likely never in your parents plan to lose all of their life savings in an effort to pay for the costs associated with long-term care. Discuss with them what their plans are for their legacy. Who would they like to provide for? What is important to them? How would they like to be remembered? This can be a way to not only start the conversation but also to bring up involving an estate planning and elder law attorney in the conversation.
Remember, the sooner that you and your aging parents can develop a long-term care plan the better off everyone will be. Although there are solutions available in a crisis, knowing what should happen if the time comes can provide peace of mind to all involved. We know this article may have raised more questions than it answers. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them.