From a practical standpoint, we all know that talking about long-term care before the need arises makes sense. Yet, more often than not, parents, children, spouses, and partners put off talking about it. Or, even worse, we remain silent hoping that things will “work themselves out.”
Talking about aging, finances, and health can be uncomfortable and awkward—they’re extremely personal and complex topics. But putting a plan in place before a crisis occurs can help ensure your long-term care choices are known, understood, and fulfilled. And that plan begins by having honest conversations with those closest to you. Otherwise, you risk having important decisions made for you at a time when emotions are high, the choices are confusing, and there’s little time to carefully consider all the factors—or weigh their implications.
This is one of those rare times when it really is all about you. So before you do anything else, take the time to carefully consider and think about the following questions.1 If possible, have your spouse or partner do the same. When you’re ready, compare your answers. You may be surprised by how much—or how little—your answers differ. And that’s okay. Finding out where you agree or disagree will help guide future decisions and planning.
Now that you have a better idea of what you want, talk about long-term care with your children, family, or others close to you. What you discuss and with whom are entirely up to you. The important thing is to have the conversation. Once you start, you may find that everyone is incredibly relieved and grateful for the chance to talk about it.
Your discussions can provide the foundation as you start creating your long-term care plan. If you find your family is not comfortable talking about your long-term care needs, acknowledge their feelings, share your reasons for concern, and perhaps try again at a later time.
It is important, however, to start building your plan now, even if that means doing so without the input and assistance of your loved ones. Remember, it’s your future. Take control of it.
1 Questions based on content developed by Marlene S. Stum, Ph.D., Financial Security in Later Life National Initiative Development Team Member from Family Social Science, University of Minnesota. Copyright 2002 University of Minnesota Regents. Materials may be copied for educational purposes only.