Discussing long term care options with your family member may be uncomfortable as these conversations can include topics such as finances or medical information that may have been considered taboo in your historical family exchanges. However, it is important to begin these discussions as a safeguard against the threat of needing this information after it has become too late. Below are four tips to make engaging in these types of conversations easier for both you and your loved one:
1. Stay focused on their concerns. Let your family member talk about their hopes or fears before adding your own concerns or thoughts. Be certain to communicate in a method that builds trust into future conversations.
2. Transition to the topic by using a different past situation as an example. “Dad, remember when grandma was diagnosed with dementia? Grandpa had to quit his job to take care of her at home. We can avoid this kind of situation by proactively planning ahead for the unknown”.
3. Ask them what type of long-term care they would like to receive if it becomes needed. Where would be their first choice to live? How much care would they receive? How would they pay for it?
4. Write down any decisions there were made once your loved one has had the opportunity to voice their wishes, as well as any that still need to be made. This list will help to ensure that nothing is left out of the plan, and that your loved one’s desires are carried out. Also, this list can then be available to all participants in their care including other family members, care facilities, or social services.
These four tips will help ease the process of engaging in conversations regarding your loved one’s long-term care options. Remember, even if these discussions may feel uncomfortable, talking about these topics will ensure that your family member’s wishes are carried out accurately and with dignity.