The holidays are about families coming together to celebrate and look ahead to a New Year. What better time, then, to talk to your parents about their future?

One of the more important—and complex—decisions your parents will make is where they will live in retirement. By initiating this conversation, you can help kick-start the decision-making process to ensure that everyone’s needs and wishes are met.

Questions to consider

Do your parents want to remain in their home as long as possible or move to a retirement community? What are the implications of the various choices and which is best for their unique situation? Have your parents considered continuing care retirement communities, a relatively new alternative that could help meet their housing and health care needs as they get older?

It is never too early to open this dialogue with your parents. Studies show that the majority of households with people ages 65+ are concerned about becoming a burden to their adult children, so your parents may be more willing to talk about this than you realize! And, by having this discussion while your parents are still independent and high-functioning, you can avoid a more stressful and emotional conversation later.

Here are some tips to help break the ice:

  • Be casual. Start with something like: “Mom and Dad, this house has been good to us for a long time hasn’t it? Do you think you want to live here the rest of your lives?”
  • Ask if your parents have long-term care insurance and/or VA benefits. If they do, ask how these programs fit into their overall plan, and how these benefits will meet their expectations for future retirement living and care.
  • Avoid using terms like “retirement home,” “nursing home,” “assisted living,” and “long-term care.”
  • We all know—or have read—about people who are challenged by the demands of caring for a loved one. Consider asking the hypothetical question, “What would we do if something like that happened in our family?”
  • Ultimately, you know your parents better than anyone, so consider if the direct approach is best. If so, just ask what their long-term plans are. Where do they want to live and who will provide for their needs if their circumstances or health status change?

Although it may be awkward to get your parents to start talking about plans for the later stages of their retirement, it can help your family avoid difficult, and often costly, situations down the road.

Happy Holidays!

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