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Friday, June 24, 2011 10:29:26 AM

My father’s health is beginning to deteriorate. He doesn’t have any major illnesses, but age is taking its toll. How do I have a conversation with him about long-term care and long-term care insurance?

Here's a brief excerpt from Elder Care Made Easier:

“The single most difficult challenge you face as a caregiver could be managing communication with the person you’re caring for, your extended family, other professionals involved in your elder’s situation, and surprisingly, even yourself. Honest, open, crystal clear communication should be your goal. Why? Every time the lines of communication are unclear or broken off, your ability to make smart decisions is hampered. You could have arguments with loved ones, or expect the impossible from doctors, or cause your elder to become irritated by a situation you thought you had under control. Have the strength to implement a communication strategy that gets to the truth of your elder’s situation.”

My years of experience of working with seniors and the frail elderly have shown they are dealing with so many issues that we may not be aware of. These could be triggered by fear of losing their independence, anger over failing in mind and body, concern that others will be making decisions for them, panic that they will have to move from their home, and anxiety that they may be institutionalized or may outlive their money.

Let your father know your concerns from your perspective, especially if your worrying is affecting your sleep, your job and your home life. This is not meant to give him a guilt trip, but to let him know that you're fully involved with his care and that you're both in this together to find solutions. He has to be brought up to date regarding the cost of medical care, including hospital and rehabilitation stays, and the hourly rates of home care aides and geriatric care managers, so he can appreciate that long-term insurance may be a hedge against these expenses. It is usually an educational process for all involved.

Overall, be patient and listen. You will both travel this path together and find solutions from the strength of understanding and mutual support

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Laura Adams is a personal finance expert and award-winning author who is Senior Insurance Analyst for InsuranceQuotes.com. She represents Bankrate Insurance’s web properties in the media and works as an advocate to make sure consumers protect their financial futures by having the right kinds of insurance.

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