Aging happens to all of us, including Mom and Dad. Once your parents can no longer take care of themselves, the family will need to have a discussion. Perhaps they made plans and discussed this with the family years ago; however, this is often not the case. For those moments, you need to know how to talk to them about assisted living.
According to an AARP report, more than 70 million Americans aged 50 and older suffer from at least one chronic condition. As we get older, it gets worse as four out of five older adults—suffer from at least one chronic condition.
As people age, it may become more difficult for them to do the daily activities that will keep them safe and healthy. It is a natural part of growing older to lose the ability to continue in your everyday life, so it becomes necessary for someone to step in and help.
Start the Conversation Early – Make it Ongoing
If you notice your parents having more trouble in their day-to-day activities, you may need to open up a discussion about lifestyle changes or assisted care options. It is up to you to initiate this conversation; many older people are in denial about their decline and need for assistance. The time to have 'the talk' is before a significant event occurs that give everyone fewer options.
Often, when a senior is told that they need assistance, they will immediately reject the idea. Your parents may get shocked or offended, so the topic needs to be brought up more tactfully; coming right out and saying they need help may offend and embarrass them.
Seniors may be more open to discussion when you bring the topic up after they voice their own concerns about the difficulty of their daily routines. But bringing the subject up slowly over time can plant the seed in their mind and make them more open to the idea.
Let Them Know They Have Options
Their declining health and frailty will not mean they must be sent to a long-term care facility away from their home. Today, your parents have many choices on the type of long-term health care they need or want to receive. There are many quality in-home care options available, or they may think it's best to be in a facility. However, there are ways to maintain independence at home and delay or avoid a facility.
There are several benefits for in-home assisted care; chief among those reasons is that your parent isn't uprooted from their home and placed somewhere else. Whatever the case may be, let them know there are options available to make them more comfortable with their lifestyle change.
All of us want to maintain our independence and avoid dependency. Living at home help gives people a sense that they are less dependent. However, to live safely at home the proper in-home health care is required.
Listen and Be Understanding
It should not be a one-sided discussion of you telling your parents all the reasons why they need help at home. Give them a chance to voice their worries and anxieties. Let them know that you are considering their feelings when you discuss the topic.
By voicing their apprehensions, you can answer your Mom or Dad's questions about this change and let them know that their hesitations and questions—while genuine and reasonable—can be answered. Having an active back and forth can eliminate some of their misgivings about the subject.
Give Them Time – But Not Too Much Time
Talking to your parents about accepting help at home can be a long process, and you need to give them time to make their decision. It may take them several weeks or months to come to terms with their limitations. Present your case and let them know you are only discussing it for their benefit, and it may take them a while to see your side.
However, do not allow for too much delay. Falls, for example, are common and can force an older person into a long-term care facility instead of staying in their home.
Frame the conversation with your parent/parents by first praising them on the things they can still do on their own despite the age and health problems they face. Be sure you tell them you want them to be safe and live as independently as possible. The proper in-home care enhances their independence and does not limit it.
Proper In-Home Care Can Delay or Avoid Need for LTC Facility
Generally, you can agree that if they get the proper care and assistance at home, they can delay or avoid a facility. Although, be sure they understand that there may be a time a long-term care facility is required. Although many facilities are available and options like assisted living facilities, which are better than nursing homes, the right care at home can help them stay there a long time.
Then there is the cost. Remember, in-home long-term health care will not be paid for by Medicareor supplements. In-home care is primarily custodial in nature, and unless they own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, they will have to pay for care out-of-pocket.
The good news is in-home care is more affordable than long-term care facilities. However, over time, these costs can increase according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator.
LTC Insurance Pays for In-Home Care
Hopefully, your parents purchased Long-Term Care Insurance. If not, review their finances and see where money is available to pay for in-home care. Then, take a moment and think about what your future needs will be decades from now.
Don't force your children to have a similar conversation with you in the future.
You can start planning now and be in control, giving your family peace of mind knowing you have a plan.
Long-term health care is costly, and the consequences of aging and changing health affects you, your family, savings, lifestyle, and legacy. Without a plan, your family can go into crisis mode. It can be avoidable.
The ideal time to consider Long-Term Care Insurance is in your 40s and 50s when you still enjoy reasonably good health and premiums are at their lowest. This type of insurance is medically underwritten, so you cannot wait until you have significant health issues.
Seek the help of a qualified specialist to assist you in your research - for yourself. Meanwhile, start working with your parents so they can enjoy as independence at home for as long as possible.
Preparing your family and finances for the future costs and burdens of aging is an essential part of retirement planning. If you have parents who have declining health, you see it with them. Your retirement plan should include a plan for long-term health care.
Remember, Long-Term Care Insurance is more than just about money. Yes, long-term health care is a significant cash flow issue. But Long-Term Care Insurance addresses this problem. But long-term care is also a family issue. Without any plan in place, the family will go into crisis mode. You might already be in crisis mode with your parents.
No plan can be a disaster for you and your family. If we are talking about you and your needs in the years ahead, you want to make sure your wishes are front and center and not ignored.
Avoid Dependency on Family
An LTC policy keeps you in control and helps avoid becoming dependent on your children decades from now. You will have access to guaranteed tax-free benefits that will pay for your choice of quality care, either in-home or in a facility.
You can safeguard your 401K, IRA, and other assets and maintain your lifestyle once you retire. However, Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so you must have reasonably good health to obtain coverage. Plus, premiums are calculated on your age, health, family history, and other factors.
Tools Available on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers multiple tools and resources to help you research the financial costs and burdens of aging so you can find an affordable solution.
Seek Help of a Qualified LTC Specialist
A Long-Term Care specialist can help you determine your eligibility based on your health history and other factors. Most financial planners and general insurance agents are not knowledgeable about underwriting, features, benefits, federal/state partnership programs, policy design, and claims.
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