How You and Your Family Can Plan for the Transition to Long-Term Senior Care

Decisions about long-term care for yourself or for a loved one are never easy. But sooner or later, these decisions will need to be made. And when you are faced with this necessity, things will go more smoothly for all concerned if you’ve planned carefully and had the difficult conversations in advance. So, tempting though it might be to put off worrying about long term care options, consider making a plan and setting a budget well in advance of the time when care will be needed. This will be easier on your finances and less of a strain on familial relationships. And above all, it will reduce stress for the individual facing this major life transition.

What should you talk about when you plan for long-term care?

Getting the conversation started can be the most nerve-wracking part, especially for caregivers concerned about causing anxiety for a senior loved one. Sometimes caregivers may feel guilty or second-guess themselves as they begin the conversation about long-term care options. It’s important to remember that seeking more comprehensive or specialized care for a senior loved one is not a failure on your part. It means you are putting their needs first.

It can be helpful for all parties concerned to discuss what kind of timeline they anticipate before more extensive care will be needed. Are there any health factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as existing ailments or possible hereditary illnesses? What changes can be made now to make a senior family member’s present living situation safer or more comfortable?

Caregivers should respect the needs and the wishes of their senior family members. It’s important to listen when they express worries about their future and to take their lifestyle preferences seriously. Seniors should not be afraid to ask family caregivers to help them do research into what care options are available to them. Some seniors may require only occasional assistance in a more user-friendly residence. But others may need daily attention and medical or memory care.

What financial concerns are associated with transitioning to long-term care?

Making a lifestyle change of this magnitude can be overwhelming. Add the financial concerns associated with moving to long-term care, and it’s clear why this topic can be so fraught for families. This is another reason why it’s important to initiate the conversation well in advance of any move: so you and your family can budget for your long-term care needs.

Some cost considerations include medical expenses, the cost of care facilities, and the length of time one anticipates using those facilities. Assess all likely costs you anticipate. Then, look at what finances you have to work with, from savings and retirement or from any sustainable passive income sources. This will help you determine both what you can afford and whether you need to access more funding. Also make sure you have accurate information about what your insurance will or will not cover when it comes to senior care and any additional medical needs. Medicaid and long-term care insurance will cover many services, but some types of insurance will not.

Likely you will already have discussed your plans for your existing home. If you need additional funds to transition to long-term care, selling your home might be a good option, depending on what you are likely to get for it on the current market. Have a realtor take charge of the busy work if you do opt to sell your home so you don’t end up exhausting yourself on organizing showings and keeping up on paperwork.

This can be an emotional time for you and your loved ones, so remember to be gentle with yourselves, respect one another’s needs, and practice self-care when needed. Family caregivers, also make sure your senior loved ones have access to self-care resources. Follow Dr. Vik Ahluwalia’s Health and Wellness Blog if you are interested in learning more about general wellness for you and your loved ones. 

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