Your parents are getting older and you know, slowly but surely, life is changing for them. You’re thinking about their future but you’re not sure that they are. Should you ask about it, even though it’s a tough conversation to have? The short answer is yes.
Get the ball rolling
Your foresight to think about your parent’s long-term care now means you’re on the right track. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) projects that by 2020, more than 12 million older Americans will need elder care. Still, most families are unprepared for the long-term care of aging parents, which experts say one of the largest expenses adults will encounter in their lives.
Many people are reluctant to plan for long-term care. No one likes to think about aging and the possibilities of losing one’s independence, needing adult nursing or personal assistance with activities of daily living, or perhaps outliving one’s retirement savings.
Adults who find themselves sandwiched between caring for their children and their parents may feel emotionally unprepared to cope with the thought of their parents needing elder care. But rest assured, help and answers are readily available.
Talking about long-term care
Even though it may be uncomfortable, it’s imperative to have conversations with your parents about their long-term care in a warm, open and understanding manner. Here are some ways to do that.
- Set a clear short-term goal. Make sure you have a goal before you have the conversation. What exactly do you want to accomplish in this conversation? It can be one of many conversations, so keep that in mind. It might be best to keep the first conversation short and sweet.
- Don’t tag team. When discussing sensitive topics like long-term care, siblings should avoid appearing as if they are “ganging up.” Instead, appoint one or two adult children to broach the subject. For some families, this conversation is best started in a casual way, while other families may feel more comfortable in the more formal setting of a family meeting.
- Remind your parents they are in control. Be sure to let your parents know they are going to make the decisions about their future, not you.
- Ask questions to make your point. You want to minimize stress and defensiveness, so it can be helpful to frame your concern as a question. For example, “Do you think you need help with cooking or housekeeping?”
- Bring up someone else’s situation. It can be useful to discuss other individuals or families you know who have struggled with long-term care issues, as cautionary tales to help give your parents perspective.
- Use printed materials. If you have a hard time broaching the subject, think about introducing your parents to statistics, articles, or other printed materials with information about long-term care costs and considerations.
- Write to them. If it’s still too much to talk about long-term care with your parents in person, another way to get your point across is through an email or a letter to them. It can be especially effective if you live far away and only have a weekend to discuss the topic. A pre-written email can help guide the subsequent conversation.
Part of planning appropriately for your parents’ elder care includes not just the initial conversation, but finding out about their entire financial, legal, and medical situation, understanding their life decisions, and ensuring that they have the necessary documents and funding strategies in place to ensure that their wishes are respected.
Elder home care: Is it an option?
The vast majority of aging Americans prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible, and home health care can help aging parents to stay safe at home over the long term.
You may be unsure what’s involved with home health care and if it really could be an option for your aging parents down the road. The good news is home health care focuses on maximizing their independence so they can safely stay in their home longer.
For example, services provided by home health care professionals can range anywhere from helping your parents with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and preparing meals up to providing skilled nursing care in the home and managing medications. They also can provide companionship and drive your parent to and from appointments and activities.
Some more benefits of home health care services:
- Home health care professionals can help assess your parents’ home and suggest modifications and assistive devices to maximize independence and prevent injury. They also can collaborate with doctors and family members to develop a care plan personalized for your parents’ specific needs.
- Professional caregivers can provide first-hand observations of your parents’ changing needs and work with your parents’ physician to adjust their care plans accordingly.
- Home care nurses or home health aides can provide care for as little as two hours a day and up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- When one parent requires more personal assistance than the other, caregivers can provide much-needed relief, allowing both parents to stay together at home.
- With proper planning for long-term care, older parents can avoid the high costs associated with assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
- With a reputable home health care agency, you can have peace of mind knowing that all levels of care are supervised by a registered nurse with 24/7 support and their thoroughly screened caregivers receive ongoing training and evaluations
As difficult as it may be, starting the conversation about long-term care now will help you take better care of your parents later.
BAYADA elder care experts can answer your questions about payment options, coordinate insurance coverage, and handle paperwork for your convenience and peace of mind. Please contact your nearest BAYADA office or call us at 888-889-8281 to learn more about planning for long-term care and our elder care services.
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