How to Share Your Plans for Aging and Long-Term Care

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Updated November 16, 2023
Older Woman and Young Woman Sitting at a Table Holding Hands
Key Takeaways

To ensure your long-term care journey aligns with your needs, wishes, and values, it’s important to discuss them with your loved ones. With appropriate timing, positivity, honesty, and openness, these conversations can lead to a rewarding care partnership. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lean on outside resources to learn more about the care options available for you or a loved one.

Discussing Long-Term Care Plans: Tips to Start the Conversation

Do you have a vision in mind for how you’d like to age and what long-term care might look like for you? Or perhaps you’re just starting to consider your future and options. Either way: Don’t keep your ideas to yourself! Talk with your loved ones so they can support your plan. Starting a conversation about aging and long-term care might feel awkward or scary. Perhaps you don’t want to discuss the topic, or maybe you worry about how your loved ones will react. But by involving loved ones early, you can be more assured of aging according to your wishes. 

The first step is understanding what YOU want your aging journey to look like. You can start by thinking Who, What, Where, When, How, Why:  

Who would I want providing my care if I needed it?”  

This could be family and friends or more formal supports like a home care agency. If being provided by family, is that something they can realistically provide? 

What kind of care may I need in accordance with my diagnoses, lifestyle, etc.?” 

For example, if you have deteriorating vision, you may need help with transportation sooner than others. Or if you have mobility challenges, you may need help with bathing, dressing, and toileting.  

Where would I want my care provided?”  

This question can be answered in a few ways.  

1. What type of setting would you like your care provided in? (i.e. home versus a facility) and  

2. What location would you like your care provided at? (i.e. close to your children, where you grew up, where you live now, etc.)  

When would I need care or when would I need more care?”  

Identifying your own personal limits as well as those of your family, if relevant, is helpful to consider before the time comes. Many people note they would move to a facility once they need help with toileting or incontinence management. Others indicate they would like to continue increasing care at home throughout their aging journey. Understanding when you may need care helps alleviate some emotional stress when the time comes.  

How would I achieve my long-term care preferences?”  

When considering your long-term care preferences, it’s important to also understand the cost and logistics of those preferences. For example, moving closer to a family member may require downsizing and added costs but the benefit may outweigh those.   

Why are these goals important to me?”  

Understanding your long-term care preferences in terms of their importance to you can allow for prioritization. It also offers your family a view into your decision making. Long-term care preferences can be influenced by financial, moral, cultural, spiritual, and personal motivations, all of which should be considered and respected.  

Once you have identified your preferences and answered the questions above, you can begin having these conversations with your loved ones. This may not be one conversation – it may transcend many weeks, months, or even years. Your preferences may change and evolve as you age and that is okay! Keeping lines of communication open with your loved ones will help ensure that your preferences are honored and respected.  

Here are 6 tips for discussing long-term care with your loved one:  

1. Plan an appropriate time to discuss the topic

Taking some time to plan out when and where the conversation should be held is key for successful discussions about aging and long-term care. Make sure the environment is comfortable and that there are few distractions – no TV, phones, or other people around who could disrupt the conversation. 

2. Start by focusing on the positives

Focus on the positive aspects of growing older. Point out the wisdom and experience that comes with age, or the exciting new possibilities that lie ahead. These conversations can often feel intimidating or uncomfortable, so it is important to be clear and explain why your preferences are important to you and what helped influence those preferences. If you have had experiences with your own loved ones, friends, or peers, explain how those situations guided your decision-making.

3. Be honest and open

Be sure to explain to your loved one why you want to discuss this topic and what you hope to gain from the conversation. Don’t be afraid to explain your own personal experiences or share your opinions and feelings. If you don’t agree on something, see if there is a way to compromise, or even revisit the topic at a later date. Sometimes people need time to digest these conversations before being able to come to a solution. 

4. Listen

Listen carefully and thoughtfully to your loved one's concerns and worries. Show them that you understand and empathize with their thoughts and feelings. Although your aging care journey is your own, it can impact your loved one significantly. Be mindful of this as you have the conversation and try considering their perspective as well. 

5. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to better understand their perspective. Ask them to explain their thoughts and feelings more in-depth. This will help you gain a better understanding of their point of view. 

6. Offer solutions

Finally, you can offer solutions for the issue if you have them. If not, try and come up with compromises or solutions together.    

Next step:

Put it in writing! After you’ve shared your vision for aging and long-term care with your loved one, make sure you document your plan and discuss with your physician, long-term care advisor, and/or elder law attorney if applicable. Making sure you have your health and financial wishes documented can help ensure your wishes are honored and respected. 

Your long-term care starts here

Get the conversation about long-term care started with a quality care provider. Search the CareScout Quality Network to find a provider near you.

Expert reviewed by

Kelly Briggs

Kelly Briggs, M.A., LSW, CCM

Kelly is a Licensed Social Worker and Board-Certified Case Manager with a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a certificate in trauma studies. She is passionate about helping aging adults and their caregivers understand options, feel empowered in their decision making, ...

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Written by

Linda Watts

Linda Watts

Linda Watts leads content and brand voice for CareScout. She has 20+ years experience building marketing content, teams, and infrastructure for healthcare organizations, including hospitals, payers, and long-term care providers. Her goal is to help care seekers understand their options, find the ...

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