Q and A: Helping Seniors Plan Their LTC
Question: I want to help my parents plan for their long-term care. What should the top considerations be?
Answer:Â Â There are some basic and extremely important aspects to consider when assisting loved ones in preparing to meet their long-term care needs. Among the top four are the following:
1. What do your loved ones want?
2. What legal rights do you have to help them?
3. How will they access health care, especially if they become seriously ill?
4. Financially, how will they meet their health and long-term care needs as well as their housing needs?
Another overarching concern for adult children is â€“ how are you going to broach the subject of long-term care with your parents? If theyâ€™ve come to you while theyâ€™re free from health crises and asked for your advice or help, you are way ahead of the curve. Even so, you are moving into difficult terrain.
Questions about retirement and long-term care include concerns about finances, frailties, loss and end of life â€“ all sensitive subjects. People who are seniors now are not part of the â€ślet-it-all-hang-outâ€ť-Sixties generation. They were taught that it was just not polite to discuss certain things. And, certainly parents didn’t burden their children with their problems. You will have to overcome their reluctance, and quite possibly, your own.
Fairly quickly in the process, you may have to confront denial; that amazing capacity we humans have to keep painful feelings at bay. â€śEverything is all right,â€ť â€śWe can do it ourselves,â€ť and â€śItâ€™s not that bad yetâ€ť can all be attempts to redirect or refute underlying physical, emotional, psychological and/or spiritual problems.
As an adult child, you may resist the idea of â€śparenting your parents.â€ť You would have to give up the idea of having your parents to turn to for comfort and caregiving. Or, you may worry that your parents could feel insulted or would ignore advice you might give. After all, parents have the advantage of playing the â€świsdom of ageâ€ť card.
Parents may feel guilty about â€śbotheringâ€ť their children with their problems or becoming a burden. Again, theirs was a very self-reliant generation. They also might be afraid about the future or angry and frustrated at losses theyâ€™ve already experienced.
Discomfort, denial, anger, fear and frustration â€“ these are all big emotions to work through. But, doing nothing as your parents age can put the entire family into a crisis later on. And unfortunately, desperate people make desperate choices â€“ rather than well-reasoned decisions. It will help if you realize early that your and your parentsâ€™ choices will be limited by a lot of factors.
You may find it easier to introduce the topic of long-term care by seeking your parentsâ€™ advice about whatÂ you should do for them, then exploring their preferences. And, rather than second-guessing yourself with each decision, try to take comfort in knowing you can only do what seems best at the time.