Tips & Insights

Dos and Don'ts to help the conversation along

Long term care conversations are not the easiest to start, but they will be some of the most important ones you will have. You’ll be glad you took the time.


  • Talk in Person - If at all possible, have this conversation face-to-face. Carve out time around the next family get-together or arrange an extra day so you can talk.  Even if you can't be there in person you can still have a face-to-face talk, thanks to technology.
  • Bring a Sense of Humor - This doesn’t have to be, nor should it be all business. And it shouldn’t be dreary. Relax. Smile. Be reassuring. And don’t be afraid to laugh.
  • Listen, Really Listen - Ask questions. Listen. Be open and respectful of their opinions, even if you hear answers you weren’t expecting or don’t like.
  • Go with the flow - Outline the approach but be flexible and open. There may be things to discuss that are not on your list. You might discover things and go places that you never expected. That’s the joy of this journey.
  • Allow time - Don't plan a talk if you have plans immediately afterwards.  This needs to be an open-ended discussion doesn't come to an abrupt ending. 


  • Don’t overwhelm with Statistics and Forms - It’s great to be informed and prepared, but don’t inundate your loved ones and don’t be overbearing.
  • Don't Make Plans and Decisions Ahead of Time - It's tempting to talk with other family members, figure everything out, and then present your plan as the ultimate solution. While you have good intentions, your loved ones might feel that their wishes and ideas are not being considered.
  • Don't Talk When Emotions Are Heated - It’s best to talk when everyone is calm and rested, and when you won’t be interrupted. If things start to break down, if tempers flare, then call it a day. Let them know it’s okay and that you can sort things out at another time. It’s helpful to agree on a common goal, and if necessary restate the goal to redirect the energy and efforts.
  • Don’t Drift Into Old Habits - Leave old roles and preconceptions at home.  If things revert to old ways change topics or try a different approach.
  • Don't forget you are all adults - It can be easy to assume different roles when discussing a tough topic.  Don't treat people like children when talking.  It is a two way conversation that deserves maturity and respect. 
  • Don’t Push - Allow your parents to make their own choices and resist the temptation to force decisions on critical issues unless their health or safety is at risk.

128313LO3 05/26/15


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