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At This Year’s Family Holiday Gathering, Talk to Your Loved Ones About Growing Older

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Discussions about assisted living facilities, paying for long-term care, creating wills and other legal documents don’t always come up during holiday visits and Christmas dinners. But the holiday season is an ideal time to gather your loved ones for a frank discussion with aging parents or loved ones.

An AARP survey in 2014 reported that 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home and community as they age. That means many adults end up caring for their aging parents - plus their own families - in an effort to keep Mom and Dad at home for as long as possible.

Talking to loved ones about their desires, their current health condition and their budget for long-term care is a conversation best had when there’s time to truly talk through the issue. Putting these discussions off means fewer choices and rushed decisions when a health crisis strikes.

Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up money and aging, but these discussions don’t have to be awkward and stressful. Here are tips to get the conversation going as family members gather during the holiday season:

  • Siblings should be united in their desire to broach this subject. Decide together to have a family meeting to talk about aging in place and paying for long-term care.

  • Frame the conversation as causal rather than confrontational. You don’t necessarily have to come to final conclusions in one sitting, but start the discussion and set a timeframe for making decisions or having legal/financial documents completed.

  • Let everyone have a say. Parents or other loved ones shouldn’t feel ambushed by the conversation. Instead, involve them by asking questions about how they see their future, where they would like to live and whether they have documents in place outlining their wishes.

  • Money can be touchy subject - especially among family. If loved ones are hesitant to discuss their personal finances with their grown children, encourage them to consult with a financial planner or long-term care specialist who can help them evaluate whether they have adequate savings or insurance to pay for care should they need it.

  • Research technology and how it can help loved ones live independently at home. For example, in-home medication dispenser Livi sits on the kitchen counter, managing a 90-day supply of up to 15 different medications. Using a cloud-based application, it also provides medication adherence reports, refill reminders and sends text messages or email alerts to caregivers when a dose is missed or late.

“We know aging adults prefer to live in their own homes for as long as possible. We also know their adult children are quite often the ones sorting pills and monitoring prescriptions - a time-consuming process that takes away from their own children and spouses as well as quality time they could be spending with their older parents,” said Bill Park, chief technology officer at PharmRight, the creator of Livi. “A device like Livi is a huge benefit to people who want to age in place and it provides incredible peace of mind to family caregivers.”