Have you been reflecting on the time spent with your family as the holidays have ended and the new year is here? For many of us, the holidays mean spending time with aging parents and grandparents.

While spending time with your aging parents, did you discuss their future and long-term care planning?

Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer to the above questions is “no.” We may have noticed specific issues with our aging parents, but during the holidays, it is hard to tackle these issues and have difficult conversations. For most of us, the holidays were a time for being together, celebrating, and observing. Now that the new year is here, we must reflect on the fact that there may be key long-term care questions that need to be answered.

In our practice, there are five important questions that we frequently hear from our clients and their loved ones:

1. Do you know if your aging parents have completed any long-term care planning?

By asking this broad question, you can begin the conversation by eliciting information about whether your loved ones have taken any steps to plan for their long-term care. In fact, they may have a complete plan already in place or their current plan may need to be updated.

2. Who do they want to make medical decisions if they become medically incapacitated?

This was definitely not a holiday dinner conversation, but you need to know their wishes. If suddenly your loved ones become incapacitated, is there a family member or close friend who understands their wishes regarding medical care? If there is such a person, ensure they have completed their estate plan to give legal authority to this person to act if they are unable to do so.

3. Who will handle their finances and make financial decisions?

If a loved one becomes mentally or physically incapacitated, who would they want to pay their bills or make financial decisions?

4. If your parents could not live alone, do you know if they would prefer to stay in their home, or would they be interested in assisted living?

No one truly wants to live in a nursing home should their long-term care needs become so severe that they cannot care for themselves. The most important conversation to have right now is to talk about what they want, so you can create a plan that allows them to live the way they want to as they age. Some people want to remain in their homes, while others may prefer to live in an environment where assistance is available. If your aging parents want to remain in their home, making safety modifications or arrangements for a caregiver may become necessary. Facilities should be visited if they prefer assisted living, and a plan for covering the cost should be discussed.

5. How will my parents pay for a nursing home if it becomes necessary?

This last question is extremely delicate and very difficult to discuss, but it must be considered. Statistics indicate that more than half of all senior Americans will eventually require nursing home care, and the cost can be disastrous. You can help your aging parents understand that they may need to purchase long-term care insurance. Another option would be for them to create a trust for asset protection, which may allow them to qualify for Medicaid. Both actions could prevent them from losing their life savings to the cost of nursing home care.

Having conversations surrounding these questions will provide a great starting point in assisting your loved ones in creating a solid, long-term care plan to meet their future needs. Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive probate, trust, Medicaid, asset protection, and elder care legal help in Central Ohio. We can also assist with the planning necessary to achieve their goals. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic to broach, in the long run, helping loved ones plan for their future is critical.

Elder care attorneys can help families navigate specialized areas of the law, including matters of long-term care, social security, and health care directives, so loved ones get what they need no matter where they are in the continuum of care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.