Long Term Care Blog Series: Emotions and Planning

March 15th 2016, by Charles D. Keller

As we continue our long-term care blog series, this article will focus on some of the ways we deal with decisions regarding the potential need for long-term care. While it can be challenging to think about and discuss these issues, let’s take a candid look at the way we respond when we think about long-term care.

We might respond with denial and completely avoid the issue. The thinking process might go something like this:

“I’m pretty healthy so I’ll probably never need care. This could never happen to me.” Unfortunately, statistics and historical data tell us that at least two thirds of individuals age 65 or older will need care during their lifetimes. With these odds, taking this approach seems less than prudent.

We might also respond this way:

“If I need care, my children will take care of me.” We need to think this through more thoroughly because personal comfort and dignity come into play in the decision making process. Here are some specific, additional questions we need to ask if we are depending on our children to provide our long-term care:

  • Do your children know this is your wish, and have they fully committed to doing so? In other words, have you had a candid discussion with your children about the way providing your care would affect their immediate families and their lifestyle?
  • Are your children equipped physically and emotionally to take on the role of caregivers?
  • Are you, the one needing care, at peace with the thought of your own children or their spouses assisting you with very private care activities, such as bathing or toileting?

Here is a way to respond to the potential need for long-term care that we believe is both responsible and healthy:

We recommend having a family meeting or meetings before care is needed. In this setting parents and adult children should all have the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings. There may be tears, initial disagreements, and raw emotions expressed while discussing this challenging topic. But if the end result is a cohesive game plan agreed to be all, much confusion, avoidance, and hurt feelings can be eliminated.

There are multiple solutions to the need for long-term care that we will discuss in upcoming blogs. Individuals, couples, or families will make different decisions about how to address the potential need for long-term care. Whatever the decision, the key is to start early, communicate well, and put a plan in place for future care. You and your family will be glad you did.