Northwestern Mutual

Having Constructive Conversations

A good plan involves the whole family.

Talking with parents, siblings, a spouse, children or other loved ones about issues of long-term care can be emotional and overwhelming.

In a recent Northwestern Mutual study, for example, 35 percent of people said talking to their parents about long-term care would be one of the most difficult conversations they could possibly have... right up there with asking to borrow money or asking their boss for a raise.1

And yet talking with your family about the "What if's?" is the first step in developing a plan for long-term care. By getting everyone on the same page now, there may ultimately be less confusion, stress and fewer regrets if the need for long-term care arises.   

Of course, having a conversation about long-term care may be easier said than done, especially if the discussion is with your parents. Parents don't want their children to feel physically or financially obligated to care for them. They don't want to admit to their children if they haven't been as financially responsible as they needed to be. And children don't want parents to think they're prying or second-guessing decisions their parents may have made. 

22 percent of individuals aged 45 to 54 facing duel presrrue of supporting an elderly relative and a child under 18, have addressed Long-Term Care in retirement plans

But there are ways to make approaching the topic a little easier on everyone, whether you're talking with your parents, your children, your spouse or other loved ones. The following tips are offered by and by the American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living.

  • Talk sooner rather than later. Have conversations about long-term care while everyone is healthy. It’s better to have discussed your loved one’s preferences before the need arises.
  • Prepare yourself. Do your homework. When you understand the basics of long-term care, your knowledge can help to lessen the concerns of a loved one.
  • Test the waters. Before broaching the subject, get a sense of whether your loved ones are open to having the conversation. And if they seem open to it, ask permission to have the conversation. Asking permission assures your loved one that you will respect his or her wishes and honor them.
  • Set the tone, and then listen. When someone in the room makes a point, rephrase it in your own words and say it back to that person. That way the individual will know that you heard him or her and that you understand that point of view.
  • Stay positive and show respect. Don’t push making a decision right away. You’ll likely need to have more than one discussion with your loved ones – and that’s okay. Just don’t forget to follow up.

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