Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts August 8, 2013:

Long-term-care insurance is an emotional subject. I mean, really, who wants to talk about the possibility of needing help with bathing, dressing and toileting? “It could never happen to me!”

When starting a discussion with a loved one, it is fairly normal for there to be denial. Instead, you can try discussing the need for protecting the family. Think of it this way: It’s not protection for you, it’s protection for your family. Because long-term care is really a family issue. Do you have a plan to take care of your family should you ever need help with daily living?

Many people are unaware of long-term care until they know someone who has needed long-term-care services. They hear firsthand accounts of the importance of a caregiver, the high cost of long-term-care services and the impact on the family. Or, people see firsthand how long-term-care insurance protection has helped a family have choices in caring for family members in times of need. Stories like these are often the trigger needed to get people to consider the possibility that, “It could happen to me!”

Most people who have considered protection for their families stop with auto, property, health and life insurance. These types of insurance products protect families against catastrophic losses. But what about a time in someone’s life when he or she might need help with two or more of the activities of daily living — bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Should a loved one need daily assistance with two or more of these activities, everyone in the family becomes involved. Therefore, long-term-care protection affects the entire family.

It is a fact that most people buy long-term-care insurance because they love their families. Having this protection empowers your family to make the best possible decisions with far more choice than without this protection. So, how can you get your loved ones to start the discussion?

One conversation starter is this: “I’d like to talk to you about living a long life, and to be more prepared to protect your family.” Most people assume they will never need assistance, yet assume they will live a very long life. Approach the subject from the positive of living a long life, instead of the possibility of needing assistance.

Another conversation starter is, “It’s not a question of who will take care of you. Of course your family will take care of you because they love you. It’s a question of how your family will take care of you and the impact it will have on their lives.”

Most people want to stay in their homes as long as possible, yet they don’t want to be a burden to their spouse or children. By choosing to protect your family, there will be far more choices available to remain in your home with help from the outside, or even a family member who is paid to provide care.

Lastly, you can always hand your family member a copy of this article to get the conversation started. However you choose to start the conversation, it’s important to at least make a plan. Focusing on the importance of family, choice and protection is a good way to start.

To learn more, send your questions!

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