IQ expert Dr. Marion Somers: How to have the difficult talk about long-term care
Q: 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? He’s a stubborn, thrifty guy.
A: The first step of my book, “Elder Care Made Easier,” is titled “Communicate Openly.” Here’s a brief excerpt from it:
|Dr. Marion Somers:
In the Long Term
|Dr. Marion Somers is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion’s 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One.”|
“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.
Dr. Marion Somers, Ph.D., has more than 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager and caregiver, and as an author, speaker and teacher regarding elder care and other elder issues. With the senior generation living longer than ever before, Dr. Marion believes we are on the verge of an “elder care tsunami.” After decades of working directly with seniors and their caregivers, Dr. Marion launched a public effort to provide practical tools, solutions and advice to those struggling with caring for our aging population. She is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion’s 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One” and creator of two iPhone apps: Elder411 and Elder911.
For more information, visit www.drmarion.com.
If you have a long-term care insurance question for Dr. Marion Somers, please send it to email@example.com.