It is easy to put off talking about a difficult subject, even with loved ones. It is uncomfortable and can lead to an emotional confrontation.

Addressing the long-term care of your aging parents is one of those issues. They have led independent lives, yet now you need to discuss a life-changing issue with them.

Approaching the topic

Listening to what your parents say is important. If you plot the entire conversation in your mind ahead of time, you may not hear what they are trying to tell you. Keep your mind – and ears – open.

Assure your parents that the conversation is about them. Your goal is to help plan their future, not making life easier for you. Let your parents know, without any doubt, that their welfare is your number one priority.

Ask your parents questions about what they want instead of making a plan for them yourself. It is a subject they likely have thought about themselves. As a result, they may have ideas of their own that can ease the process.

Approaching the reaction

It is possible that talking about long-term care may upset your parents. This is natural. Let it happen. After all, you are discussing their mortality and quality of life. If caught off-guard, they may see the subject as an attack on their freedom. Remain calm to keep the conversation constructive.

Do not attempt to resolve the issue in a single discussion. That is not possible. You can, however, lessen the pressure on everyone by agreeing to return to the topic later. This gives everyone time to think and reflect.

Stay positive as you focus on long-term care planning. In the end, everyone may see the wisdom of preparing for the unknown.

Approaching the future

You have set the foundation for an ongoing, meaningful discussion. End your first conversation on an upbeat note by planning a fun family activity. Go out to dinner, watch a favorite movie or play a board game.

Your parents helped you make important life decisions as you were growing up. Now it is your chance to return the loving favor.