Long-term care: Early planning pays off

Discussing long-term care with a loved one

If you're researching long-term care options for a parent or other loved one, include your loved one in the process as much as possible. Consider these tips:

  • Plan ahead. Don't wait until a loved one needs a long-term care facility. Start planning early so that you have time to evaluate the options together.
  • Work long-term care into everyday conversation. If your mother mentions a problem turning on the faucet, for example, ask whether she could use help bathing or managing other aspects of personal care.
  • Listen to your loved one's preferences and concerns. If your loved one is mentally competent, recognize his or her right to make decisions about long-term care. Stay positive as you remind your loved one that his or her safety is your primary concern.
  • Explain the need for care. Let your loved one know why you feel he or she needs long-term care. Is 24-hour safety a concern? Is it difficult to transfer your loved one from home to medical care? These issues can help guide your conversation, and help your loved one understand why you feel long-term care is necessary.
  • Involve others. If your loved one doesn't respond well to your efforts to talk about long-term care, involving trusted contacts — such as other loved ones, clergy, a doctor or an attorney — might help.

The idea of leaving home or receiving in-home help for everyday activities can be distressing. The more you know about the options, the better choices you can make.