How to Talk About Long-Term Care With Your Loved One

Posted on: August 28, 2023

We’re breaking down the stages of finding long-term care for your loved one in this four-part series, including noticing the signs that it’s needed, talking about it with your family members, what the costs will be, and how to find the right option for your loved one.

Read Part 1: What is Skilled Nursing, And Does My Loved One Need It?

Few things can make people squirm like a tough conversation. It’s never easy to tell a person something they might not want to hear. That’s especially true when it’s an emotionally charged topic.

Talking to your loved one about long-term care certainly checks those boxes.

As with any difficult talk, planning and preparation are key so you can stay calm throughout. Once you’ve decided that your loved one needs long-term care, your next step is to talk with them.

Follow these three steps to ensure a productive, positive conversation.

Step 1: Prepare for the Discussion with Family Members

It’s best to collect your thoughts before discussing your concerns with your loved one. This way, you’ll ensure you cover everything you want to and are prepared for any push-back.

You’ll need to talk with other family members – siblings, nieces, nephews, or anyone who will be directly involved in your loved one’s care. Explain to them that you’re concerned about your loved one’s decline, and give examples of the signs you’ve noticed.

In this conversation, and in the one you’re planning for your loved one, be respectful of other people’s thoughts. Listen without trying to think of a response. The goal is to make sure everyone is in agreement, not to win every argument.

Learn more about long-term care at Otterbein SeniorLife >>

Step 2: Approach and Listen to Your Loved One Respectfully

Ideally, you’ll talk to your loved one about long-term care before it’s an emergency. This gives them time to think about what you’ve said and not feel rushed to make a decision. But even if time is of the essence, try these tips to help the conversation go smoothly.

Although it’s a difficult conversation, do your best to stay level-headed. Some families may be famous for their yelling matches, but this isn’t the time for that. By approaching the issue calmly, your loved one will see that you’re looking for the best outcome.

Don’t be frustrated if your loved one wants more than one conversation to figure things out. Think about their perspective. This is an enormous life change – you wouldn’t make one without some deep thinking, either.

Finally, don’t be afraid to be honest in this conversation. Remember the notes about feelings above? Yours are valid, too. If this discussion is difficult for you, admit it. You might find this helps bring you closer together.

Get help deciding on a long-term care community for your parent >>

Step 3: Form a Long-Term Care Plan for the Future

The goal of your conversation with your loved one is to decide on next steps. That may mean beginning to look at long-term care options, whether at a specific location or through in-home care. Or, it may be finding a dedicated family caregiver who will be responsible for your loved one.

Whatever your decision, end the conversation by outlining the next steps that need to happen and when they should be complete. Chart out objectives and map each one to a specific person and timeline. This will help everyone stay on track and keep decision-makers accountable.

Home health care nurse listens to a senior woman's heart beat during an Otterbein SeniorLife home health visit

In the next section of this four-part series, you’ll get information on the costs of long-term care and how you can pay.

Searching for a Long-Term Care Option?

If you’re searching for a long-term care community for your loved one, we can help. Download our free guide to understanding and choosing long-term care today. 

Long-term care guide CTA