Long-term care planning isn’t the most pleasant topic of conversation. Few of us like to consider the toll that the passage of time takes on our minds and our bodies. However, having a difficult conversation in the present is better than trying to scramble for help during a crisis.

Discussing a care plan with your parents in the present can help give your family the peace of mind that comes with knowing help will be there if it’s needed in the future.

Keep things casual

If you’re a parent yourself, it isn’t easy to imagine your children telling you what to do. Your parents likely feel the same way. Making demands on your parents is an effective way to shut down a discussion before it’s even begun. Keep the conversation casual and gradually steer the topic toward long-term care planning.

One way to do so is to ask your parents about their retirement plans. This can open the door to talking about the cost of living. You can mention that the cost of long-term care is expensive. Many people have seen their nest egg dwindle to nothing within a year.

Your parents may think Medicaid will be there to help provide them with assistance in their time of need. However, Medicaid eligibility is based on income, and the income restrictions are steep. This is why you often hear of people having to “spend down” to qualify for Medicaid.

Your parents may wish to place their assets into a trust. Done properly and far enough in advance, a trust will enable them to retain their assets while still qualifying for valuable assistance provided through Medicaid. You might be able to broach this topic by asking your parents about their estate plan. You might want to mention that they should consider reviewing their estate plan and making updates to help reflect their current stage in life.

Avoid demanding immediate action

Long-term care planning can be a sensitive topic. You may not be able to get everything resolved within an hour. If your parents are uncomfortable or indicate that they don’t want to discuss things at this time, let it go. When you decide to approach the topic, always frame it as doing what’s best for your parents rather than making demands. Continuing to broach the issue can make it seem more normal over time. Eventually, your parents will realize the importance of long-term care planning.