8 Tips When Talking to Your Loved Ones about Long-term Care

This article provides eight tips to help family members discuss long-term care with their loved ones. Nurses General Nursing Article


8 Tips When Talking to Your Loved Ones about Long-term Care

Talking to your loved ones about long-term care can be a complex topic to approach. It is natural to feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed when discussing this subject; however, having an honest conversation is essential to ensuring that your loved ones are cared for in the future. Here are eight tips for starting the conversation with your family members.

1- Do Your Research

There is a lot of information required to prepare for long-term care. Homes may offer different packages, provide various options, and have additional fees or waiting lists. Compiling a list of resources may increase your confidence and help make the discussion smoother, especially if your loved ones have questions. It is best to be familiar with available services and have a clear idea of what kind of care your loved one may need down the road.

2- Speak to a Health Professional for Advice

A healthcare professional like a family doctor or social worker can offer advice for starting the conversation on long-term care. Healthcare professionals can also direct you to community resources or organizations where you can find information so you have all the information you need to prepare.

3- Pick a Good Time

The best way to ensure that everyone can participate in the conversation without feeling rushed or overwhelmed is by picking a time when everyone involved is available and relaxed. Consider scheduling a specific time for this discussion or bringing up long-term care when no one seems preoccupied with other things. Whatever works best for your family dynamic should be done here, as everyone needs to feel comfortable and supported during this challenging process.

4- Manage Your Emotions

Understand that choosing to go to long-term care is a challenging decision. Often, loved ones may feel that they are being abandoned or may feel like they are losing their independence. Give your loved ones a chance to share their feelings and opinions, and try to listen before responding. Avoid raising your voice, talking over one another, or getting angry. Staying calm and showing empathy will create an open environment to communicate effectively.

5- Give your Loved One's Time

Going to long-term care is a significant life decision affecting loved ones and family members. Your loved one may be mourning the loss of their life as they know it. They may even have to give up the home they have been living in for years. It may also mean no longer living with a spouse when they go into long-term care. Giving your loved one the time and patience to accept the decision will help for a smoother transition when it is time for them to go.

6- Do Not Feel Guilty

You may be inclined to feel guilty about considering long-term care for your loved ones. You might even be blaming yourself or telling yourself you are a terrible caregiver for putting your loved one in long-term care; however, sometimes their care needs may be beyond your ability to care for them. Ensuring that your loved one is cared for and planning a solution to meet their care needs takes courage, so do not guilt yourself.

7- Tour Homes

Long-term homes often provide free tours for family members or potential residents to tour before committing to a home. It often helps to look at homes beforehand to get the "feel" of the facility and see the programs and services they offer. Viewing the facility ahead of time will help you compile a list of the pros and cons of each home and can help you get a better sense of whether the facility would be a right fit for your loved one. This action will help you be better prepared during the discussion if your loved ones have questions. And doing so may alleviate your loved one's fears, knowing their family member has already checked out the homes.

8- Explore Other Options

Upon research and discussion with your family members, you may find that long-term care is not the best solution. Alternatives to long-term care include home health care aids and personal support workers who can provide care directly in your family member's home or semi-independent assistive living facilities, or retirement homes. Having an open, honest conversation to determine everyone's feelings, options, and needs can assist you in choosing the right path for your loved one.

FACT: Talking about long-term care can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be an unpleasant experience if approached thoughtfully and with empathy towards all involved parties.

Doing some research ahead of time and creating an actionable plan together can provide your loved one with quality long-term care while also helping alleviate any worries surrounding this topic in the future. With these tips in mind, you can start the conversation today and ensure everyone's needs are met tomorrow!

Rebecca Minott, BScN RN, is a registered nurse and freelance health writer with experience in acute care and community health. Her passion is writing engaging health content to empower and educate communities.

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Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life).

A consideration that's missing is the high cost of long term care. Medicare does not cover custodial care so many times the care must come from out of pocket sources. My mother's care was between 8K to 10K a month depending on her needs.