Discussing long-term care with your parents may feel like an uncomfortable topic to breach, but having this important conversation now will be much easier than waiting until a catastrophic health emergency occurs. This article will help you better understand how to approach the conversation about long-term care options, what questions to ask, and how choosing a Life Care community like Oak Trace now can give both you and your parents the benefit of knowing that future care needs have already been planned for today.
How to Start the Conversation About Long-Term Care
Having a successful conversation about long-term care with your parents is about balancing trust with honesty and genuine care for their well-being. Before you bring up this complex subject, keep in mind:
- Don’t approach the conversation with a preconceived result in mind. If it feels like you have a foregone conclusion and are pressuring your parent to make a decision, they may react negatively.
- Be open to whatever they have to say. To successfully navigate what can sometimes be intense emotional territory, be flexible and willing to follow their reasoning.
- Try to get the timing right. There may never be a perfect time for this conversation, but choosing a time and place where everyone can feel relaxed and comfortable will set a more productive stage.
- Be patient. Wherever the conversation leads, know that most major decisions don’t happen right away. Your loved ones may want time to consider their options, or they may ask to come back to the conversation at a later date.
7 Questions to Ask Your Parents About Long-Term Care
As you prepare for a conversation about long-term care options, you may be wondering what is best to ask. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Do You Have a Long-Term Care Plan?
Starting here gives your parents the opportunity to share their plans. There’s always the possibility that they have already considered the future and have been waiting for the right time to bring it up, or that they have an idea of what they want but are still working through the logistics. This question lets them lay the groundwork that you can build on together.
2. Would You Consider Moving to a Senior Living Community?
Community settings come in all shapes and sizes these days, and independent senior living communities are far from one-size-fits-all. Discuss whether a community-style living situation would be amenable to your loved ones and then hash out the details. Follow-up questions to deepen this stage of the conversation could include:
- What is most important to you when you consider a senior living community?
- What scenarios concern you about a potential move?
- What scenarios excite you about a potential move?
These follow-up questions also give you a framework to build a set of questions for communities to answer if you begin the search for an alternate living situation together.
3. When Would You Consider Selling Your Home?
One of the biggest benefits independent living communities offer is the ability to do away with tedious house chores and regular maintenance. Discuss any current home maintenance pain points with your parents and encourage them to think about how they will manage these tasks in the future.
For many older adults, selling their current home and moving to an independent living community with robust amenities and services frees up time and eliminates stress so they can focus on spending their retirement years exactly as they wish.
4. Does Downsizing Seem Appropriate?
Similarly, asking your parents about downsizing can help you better understand where their current pain points are. This is an especially important question if you notice your loved ones giving more away, passing on home decor, or doing some culling and downsizing of their existing belongings on their own. This process can be a way to eliminate clutter and make maintenance easier, which indicates the perfect time to discuss a move.
5. What Are Your Biggest Concerns for the Future?
Sometimes, your parents’ worries may not lie in the need to downsize or their current living situation. Family health history or other long-term care concerns may keep them up at night, and should be addressed during this conversation. If they aren’t concerned about their future care needs, emphasize that 70% of older adults will need some form of long-term care in their lifetimes, and it’s better to plan for this now than when a crisis occurs.
At Oak Trace, our independent living residents have the added benefit of Life Care, which provides guaranteed access to whatever level of care your parents may need as they age at a predictable monthly rate. For many of our residents and their families, knowing the care is there, even if they never require it, eases a heavy mental burden.
6. What Else Do You Want to Do in Retirement?
The logistics and heavier portions of the conversation shouldn’t outweigh the fact that your parents have a lot of exciting years ahead of them! Ask them what they still want to do during this chapter of their lives. Are there hobbies they want to pursue? New fitness and wellness ventures they want to try? Are they aiming to beef up their social calendar or looking for a community of like-minded individuals? Focus on how an independent living community can help them enjoy the lifestyle they want, without the worries they currently have.
7. How Can I Help?
Regardless of how the conversation goes, it’s important that your parents understand you are there for them. Ultimately, the goal of this conversation is to help them make the best decision for their needs now and in the future. Asking how you can help, with a move or otherwise, can go a long way toward reminding them how much you care.
Explore Independent Living Options at Oak Trace
At Oak Trace, we are a proud Life Care community that offers spacious independent living residences alongside incredible amenities, a vibrant social scene and access to additional healthcare services (including memory care) that your parents may need later in life. And it’s all included at a predictable monthly rate. Schedule a tour today or fill out the contact form below to learn more.