Aging can be a bitter pill to swallow. It’s a double-edged sword of sorts. With age comes a certain measure of wisdom, but it has its downsides, too. Our bodies slow down as we age, and we might have aches and pains that we never did before. We have worries that we never did in the past as well, like how we’ll handle the reality of becoming infirm to the point of needing a caregiver (whether that be someone in the family or a paid provider, in the home, or at an assisted living or nursing home facility).
When we are young, milestone birthdays like turning 21, 30, or 40 may seem like light-years away. Our younger selves can barely fathom the idea of hitting 70, 80, 90, or even 100 years old, as people regularly do these days. With life expectancies averaging about 78 across the country, the need for retirement and long-term care planning is more pressing than ever before.
Having the talk
It can be hard to talk about the eventuality of needing long-term care with an aging loved one. After all, thinking about the possibility of your own decline can be tough. These conversations are necessary, though. Once you get going, they can be both fruitful and helpful.
Here are some tips for getting started:
- Calm and collected conversations are much better for everyone involved. Phrasing the conversation as an attack on an elder’s capacity or abilities will likely result in defensiveness and potentially ire from everyone involved.
- Compassion is key. Seeing things from your loved one’s point of view can be extremely helpful. Realize that it is tough for anyone to think about their future selves needing in-home or facility-based care. It can also be difficult to think about paying for such care, which is where the guidance and assistance of an elder law attorney can be invaluable.
Questions to ponder
Perhaps the most important consideration is determining the point at which assistance will be needed. Can your loved one handle daily tasks like grooming, cooking, shopping, and dressing? If those tasks become difficult, what type of care should happen? Can a family member take up the proverbial slack, or can an in-home provider fill in the gaps? At what point should full-time assisted living or nursing home care become an option?
These difficult questions can’t be answered without full consideration of a person’s unique circumstances. Even after answering them, however, the issue of paying for care comes up. An advocate with experience handling long-term care planning can step in to guide you.