[title text=”by Barbara Davis, Compare Long Term Care“]
The conversation about “talking long term care (LTC)” is mostly oriented towards children addressing their parents.
To be sure, this is the most common situation due to the family dynamic and baby boomer expectations about independence. However, for parents who are being proactive about bringing up this important topic, it can be a difficult discussion to have—often because it feels embarrassing or selfish to talk about setting up options for long-term care. Despite the difficulties, every parent should open this important line of communication with their children in order to facilitate their and their kids’ well-being.
It’s not just about you!
The cost of long term care is one that most families forget to budget for, mostly because we can forget that life is…well, long! Life Expectancy rates around the world have been steadily on the rise. And despite stunning advances in medicine, even healthy adults will most likely still face challenges like limited mobility in their autumn years and be in need of a long term care provider.
Moreover, the unsettling truth is that debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s and forms of dementia are still prevalent among members of the aging populations, and with limited ability to predict the onset of these conditions, they can take an additional toll when not accounted for. Especially considering the costly care required for these conditions, it is prudent to start preparing now, rather than get into a financial fix. Due to the near inevitability of long-term care options as you age, preparing financially and socially for this situation is in no way self-centered. In fact, preparing now can save your loved ones much financial and emotional strain in the long run. Do it for you. Do it for them.
Weigh the options, together.
Now that we have established that some kind of financial planning is required, you have to weigh the costs and how you’ll provide for them. Brainstorm a list of LTC options with your kids and then rank them in three columns.
The first of these columns should focus on predicted care level need as the deciding factor. When discussing care level, take into account family history and personal history. What kinds of health issues do you deal with now and what kinds of difficulties have members of your family faced in the past? Would an in-home care attendant be sufficient, or would a care facility be a better option?
In the second column, sort your options by cost level and financial assets at your disposal. A side benefit of this discussion is that preparing now can save your loved ones much financial and emotional strain in the long run. Do it for you. Do it for them.. Life expectancy should remain stable or only increase during their lifetime, meaning it is a relevant need. Furthermore with the erratic nature of the LTC insurance market is resulting in many participants finding that their costly investments had minimal effect on the extreme cost of effective LTC. Understandably, stories like this cause panic among buyers new to the market, leading to making unwise decisions, like getting involved in the fiscally disastrous guaranteed purchase options for policies.
In the third column, sort the options by what you would prefer. Although you may have to compromise depending on the financial feasibility or the predicted need of care, this is an important moment for you to explain to your family why you prefer various options. Make sure to think through your “hunches” about options, which will give you a chance to target topics to research. Maybe you are concerned about media-hyped care facility crime; maybe you feel that having an in-home care attendant would be invasive. What of these fears are based in reality and which are based in fear? Pinpoint this concerns and talk about them, then come up with a plan to find out which ones are the most important to you.
Talk through your rankings and come to a decision with your family. It is ultimately up to you, but make sure to consider their input and emotions about the issue. You are a cherished family member, and your long term care will probably affect them nearly as much as it affects you.
Although long term care can at first seem like a depressing topic, it really is empowering.
By finding your desired and most effective selection for aid and support as you age, you can build an even stronger family unit.
Barbara Davis writes on health care and retirement issues primarily for the boomer generation. When not writing for Compare Long Term Care, she enjoys card games and spending time with her grandchildren.