Man talking to his senior father on couch about long-term care planning options

No one likes to talk to their parents about long-term care planning, but it is vital to have this discussion before the need for long-term care arises. According to an April 2019 article, What Is the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Services and Supports?, “The prospect of becoming disabled and needing long-term services and supports (LTSS) is perhaps the most significant risk facing older Americans. . . . Our results show that 70% of adults who survive to age 65 develop severe LTSS needs before they die and 48% receive some paid care over their lifetime.” With statistics like this, creating a well-designed long-term care plan is crucial. For example, a well-designed plan would allow your parents to receive most of their care in their desired care environment. For the most part, this is in the comfort of their own home—while minimizing the impact on their spouse, children, or other family members. 

A long-term care plan can also mitigate your parents’ financial risk from long-term care expenses to preserve their wealth for their spouse and family. Usually, a well-rounded long-term care plan will involve a combination of legal, health care, and financial tools to meet their goals and maximize their protection. Most people engage in long-term care planning due to the potential consequences to their loved ones. 

How to Start the Conversation With Your Parents

Before you sit down with your parents to have this conversation, think about how they feel about aging and how accepting they are of the need for long-term care. Even if you think you know best, your parents still need to give consent for any decisions involving their long-term care planning.

Keep in mind that this conversation is part of a supportive, collaborative process where you will hear and address any concerns your parents might have. But to help you get started, here are some tips on talking with your parents about long-term care planning.

Prepare Yourself First

It is important to understand the basics of long-term care planning yourself before beginning the conversation with your parents. Take the time to become knowledgeable about the types of care available, as this will help you when you have this conversation with them. With this information, you will lessen your parents’ fears by providing educated answers to questions they might have.

It is normal to experience feelings of guilt when you consider long-term care for your parents. Despite your feelings, realize that you are looking out for your parents' best interests. There may come a time when your parents need more care or supervision than you have the knowledge or time to provide. By planning and taking your parents’ wishes into account now, long-term care can provide the quality of care and life your parents need and deserve in a safe, secure environment. 

For help in preparing for your conversation with your parents to discuss their long-term care planning, Carolina Family Estate Planning has a long-term care planning series. This series includes articles that can educate you about long-term care planning options ​beyond government assistance planning, such as planning for eligibility for Medicaid or Veteran's Benefits. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our elder law attorneys if you have any questions.

Ask Permission

Though having a conversation with your parents about long-term care planning is in the best interests of everyone in the family, it is important to ask their permission first before discussing it. The need for long-term care is a challenging topic to discuss, and your parents might need some time to think about it first. When you ask their permission, this offers assurance to them that you will respect their wishes and honor them. 

Be Natural

Try to broach the subject naturally and talk about it in a way that meets your parents’ needs. It would help if you also thought about the best approach for your family. Would your parents respond well to a one-on-one conversation with you, or would it help to have the input of other family members, too? A long-term care plan should also include care guidelines for your family as outlined in an article on our website.

Maintain a low-stress level throughout the conversation. A simple way to accomplish this is to make it appear like it is just another discussion. If your parents are already preparing documentation such as living wills or healthcare directives, you can use that to launch the conversation.

Ask and Listen

Even though long-term care planning is in the best interest of everyone in your family, it’s still important that your parents consent to everything and guide the overall process. Ask your parents what their wishes are, what concerns they have, and what an ideal care plan looks like for them. Remind your parents why planning is essential. Be sure to:

  • Listen and take notes if necessary
  • Add in your suggestions where appropriate
  • Present options and ask for input
  • Take your time and try not to rush

Offer Your Support

Your parents may be depressed due to this situation, as no one enjoys the prospect of growing older and requiring assistance with daily activities. Your parents may struggle to express their fears and concerns about aging, which is entirely natural, but it may manifest as frustration or anger. No matter what your parents choose when it comes to long-term care, ensure that they know you give them your unwavering support, especially once they start working with an elder law attorney or family planning lawyer.

Place and Time for Discussion

Choose a place and time that is best for your parents so that they feel comfortable.  A quiet location that is free from distractions could be best so that you will not be interrupted. On the other hand, family gatherings could also be another opportunity as you and your siblings gather together to focus on your parents’ needs and wishes when it comes to their long-term care planning. If your parents are in the process of drafting wills, advanced health care directives, or legal papers, this can also be an excellent time to discuss long-term care planning.

Carolina Family Estate Planning: Your Long-Term Care Planning Law Firm

If you are looking for an “estate planning attorney near me,” look no further. Having assisted many Wake County clients with long-term care planning, our team at Carolina Family Estate Planning understands that developing a long-term care plan is about not just protecting your parents’ independence and dignity but also protecting those they love from the physical, emotional, and financial toll that caring for a loved one can take.

As an attorney, Jackie Bedard owes a fiduciary duty to act in her client’s best interests and recommend the tools she feels will best help them accomplish their estate and long-term care planning goals. She firmly believes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for long-term care planning. Instead, the best planning often involves building the right combination of legal and financial tools. When needed, we also work with other financial professionals that we have vetted, including verifying that they also hold the appropriate credentials that require a fiduciary standard to their clients.

We’ve helped many clients take an interdisciplinary approach to their long-term care planning by exploring legal and financial options. Usually, a well-rounded long-term care plan will involve a combination of legal, health care, and financial tools to meet your goals and maximize your protection. To learn more, call our office at 919-443-3035 or fill out our online contact form.

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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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