3 Tips on Speaking to Parents About Long Term Care Options

Today’s  women are decision makers.  For some couples, the woman is THE decision maker, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  For example, in nearly 8 out of 10 cases where married couples purchase a vehicle, it is the woman who makes the final decision.  And because women outlive men by 5.4 years on average, women frequently make decisions that have long lasting effects upon their children, their spouse, and even their parents.

Today, I want to offer 3 tips to help open the lines of communication between parent and child when it comes to the difficult subject of long term care.

Tip 1: Explain that Elder Law Attorneys are Passionate About Their Clients – Elders!

Elder law attorneys have deliberately chosen a career in a specialized area of law to serve elders.  Moreover, Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to act in the best interests of their clients.  The client of an elder law attorney is the elder.  Not the child. 

Elder law attorneys are equipped to facilitate familial harmony; they place the client’s concerns at the forefront of any discussion, and they orchestrate a plan that can protect a nest egg from the catastrophic expenses of long term care and improve quality of life.  An inheritance is nice – and usually a much larger inheritance is a by-product of the plan devised by an excellent elder law attorney – but the first thing I explain to families I meet with is that the inheritance is not the focus.  My client’s quality and dignity of life is priority #1.

Tip 2: Gather Information with Parents in No-Pressure Environment

Parents love to do things with their kids, and adult children likewise value the time they have with their aging parents.  One easy way to spend time with your parents while gathering information is to attend a free seminar hosted by a local elder law attorney.  Don’t be afraid to research, communicate and explain important statistics to your parents.

Tip 3: Use Easy to Understand Statistics to Convey Your Message:

Did you know that if you are over age 65:

  • you have a 7.2% chance of having an auto accident every year;
  • a 6.15% chance of needing to file a homeowner’s insurance claim; and
  • a 70% chance of needing long-term care?

Over half of those who need long-term care will require a nursing home.

Here is the statistic you must be concerned with:

  • 13% of drivers are uninsured;
  • 15% of homeowners are uninsured; but
  • 90% of senior citizens are uninsured and unprotected against long term care needs.

This means;

  1. 87% of people insure themselves against an event that has a 7.2% annual probability;

  2. 85% of individuals protect themselves against an event with a 6.15% annual probability; but

  3. Only 10% protect themselves from an event with a 90% probability!

Why is it important to plan for long term care?  Primarily because the expenses of long term care are catastrophic and can wipe out a nest-egg in less than a year.  50% of couples and 70% of singles are impoverished (broke) after one year of entering a nursing home.

Medicaid is a government program meant for those who plan for it.  I encourage you to attend a free seminar on the subject, as it is shocking that so many smart people do not realize that Medicaid – not Medicare – can be used to pay for long term care.

One common misconception is, “We don’t need to plan for our long term care yet, we’re only 65.”  Almost half of all long-term care claimants are under age 65 at the time of disability.  Every day that goes by without a plan, the family is risking possible delay or even forfeiture of government benefits that are meant to pay for catastrophic long term care costs.

Talking to your parents about their long term care options can be understandably difficult, and no other generation has had to simultaneously balance so many familial responsibilities at one time.  But there is a new breed of estate planning and elder law that takes a family-friendly, solution-based approach making it easier to discuss difficult subjects.

Photographer: graur razvan ionut
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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