According to the American Health Care Association, ʺnearly half of all Americans will need long term care at some point in their lives.ʺ Also, experts estimated that today’s seniors may need an average of five years of long-term care which includes two years of home care plus three years of long-term care in a senior facility.
Discussing long-term care with a loved one may be difficult. However, the benefits of this discussion will honor your loved one’s wishes if they need long-term care. Also, this proactive conversation will aid in your loved one’s transition to a long-term care facility.
Since most elder care is provided by unpaid family members, it is best to discuss with your elderly loved one who they would want to care for them if they became disabled or seriously ill.
In an interview with USA Weekend, Jody Gastfriend of Care.com said, ʺA proactive approach can yield better options when the time comes and can head off a family emergency.ʺ
The home elder care dynamic affects families emotionally and financially. Also, caregiving can add additional pressures and stress on an already fractured family structure.
Here are some tips for discussing long-term senior care with your loved one:
Before the Conversation:
• Conduct elder care senior living research options in advance. Research possible elder care options and costs. Secure brochures and develop a list of pros and cons of each eldercare option. You can never conduct too much research on this topic. You want to feel like an expert when your loved one asks questions about their senior living options.
• Secure family support. Ask other family members to be present during the conversation.
• Decide when and where the conversation will take place. With other member of your family, decide if you want to have a family meeting or have the conversation after a family event.
• Set some goals. Decide what type of results you want to secure after the conversation with your elderly loved one.
• Expect some resistance and have a response ready to counter this. Remember there is no perfect formula to elderly home care options. You can also recommend a bi-monthly or weekly visit by an elder care professional as a possible trial run.
During the Conversation:
• Remember to always stay positive during your conversation.
• Ask your loved one for permission to discuss the topic of eldercare options. You never want to insult or challenge your loved one when it comes to discussing eldercare living options.
• According to Care.com, lead with an empathetic statement like ʺI am worried about you because if you continue to live alone, you may fall and break your hip.ʺ
• Be honest and open. You do not want to make our loved one feel like a burden or make them feel like they are giving up their independence if they choose an elder care living facility.
• Provide examples of possible elder care living scenarios. Let your loved one know that there are a wide range of options available.
• Be ready to listen and list your loved one’s concerns.
Eldercare experts agree being proactive and planning is key in order to prepare your loved one for eldercare living options.
Also, it may be beneficial to have a third party make recommendations about eldercare living options. For example a doctor, geriatric care manager or elder law attorney can be seen as a non-threatening neutral party who presents eldercare living alternatives to your loved one.
Finally, the AARP offers a brochure called ʺPrepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Familiesʺ which offers five steps to assist you in developing a caregiving plan. See the following link for the free brochure:
Reviewed July 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton