The goal for many aging adults is to live out their lives in the comfort of their own homes. Home care workers are often the heroes who make that possible. They are doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, social workers, and more who work closely with the family to support the client’s goals. They also offer education, emotional support, medical care, home support, and compassion, particularly during National Home Care and Hospice Month.
But there often comes a time when the care and support of family and home care workers isn’t enough. When health and safety concerns demand more around-the-clock care, it may be time to consider a long-term care facility.
In honor of National Home Care and Hospice Month, here’s what home care workers want you to know about the importance of long-term care planning.
Planning is Essential for the Best Outcome
All too often, family members are faced with making care decisions after their loved one is hospitalized with an unexpected injury or illness. At that point, they find their choices are limited by insurance coverage and bed shortages.
Planning for medical emergencies gives you the safety net of knowing you won’t have to compromise your loved one’s preferences or beliefs to keep them safe.
It’s essential to talk about long-term care planning early on, before it’s needed. But that can be a difficult conversation.
10 Ways to Make it Easier to Talk About Long-Term Care Planning
Throughout our lives, we confidently plan for education, career, retirement, and other significant decisions along the way but often avoid planning for long-term care and end-of-life. It’s uncomfortable and difficult to face our loved one’s mortality.
Talking to your loved one about long-term care can be a difficult and emotional conversation. You can make it easier by preparing for the discussion and approaching it with care.
Here are some tips to make it easier:
1. Break the ice
It can be heard to start the conversation. Try easing into it by sharing a book, newspaper story, or podcast about aging as a way to introduce the topic. Give them time to consider it before bringing up the subject again.
2. Share a similar story
If you know someone who had a health crisis recently, share their story. Point out the ways that planning may have influenced their situation, good or bad.
3. Listen with your ears and heart
Talk to your loved ones about their needs and concerns. Listen with an open mind and heart. Imagine how painful it must be to plan to give up your independence and home.
4. Use language they’re comfortable with
Don’t fill your conversation with medical or legal terminology. Use terms they’re familiar with and be sensitive to their feelings about emotional topics like end-of-life care.
5. Consider preconceived ideas about care
If your loved one has an outdated concept of a “nursing home” or feels that long-term care equals abandonment, consider using media to show them how long-term care has changed over the years. Web pages with pictures and videos can put those fears to rest.
6. Consider communication styles
The way your family has always handled issues and communication will influence your success. Don’t try to change your family culture. Try to work with it.
7. Honesty is always best
Explain your concerns and fears for them. Let them know you want to be able to advocate for them. Tell them how hard it would be to make decisions for them in an emergency without a plan in place.
8. Don’t rush
The time to start the conversation is before your loved one needs care or services. Begin the conversation early and follow up frequently.
9. Encourage formal steps
Documenting their wishes is essential. Encourage them, gently, to take the conversation further than the kitchen table.
10. Be persistent
These are complex, scary topics, and your loved ones may be resistant to discussing them. You may need to try again and again. Don’t get discouraged.
Talk Now So You Can Be Sure Later
Talking to your loved ones about long-term or end-of-life care may be one of the most challenging milestones in your adult life. But not talking about it can be worse. Avoiding the topic sets all of you up to be unprepared, confused, and emotionally devastated if you must make decisions in an emergency.
Reflections Management and Care Can Help During This National Home Care and Hospice Month
At Reflections Management and Care, we’re life care specialists. We understand how stressful the healthcare system can be and how difficult it is to make decisions for those you love the most.
We’re here for you. Our care management team can help you navigate the healthcare system and choose the best options for your family. We specialize in relocation management, coordinating assessments, evaluating your possibilities, and independence in the home through Electronic Caregiver. Our counselors will be available to help resolve concerns common to seniors at this confusing time in their lives.
We know how difficult this is. Let us help.