Few people look forward to discussing long-term care planning. The toll that the passage of time takes on us all is usually something we prefer to ignore. However, having a difficult discussion now is much less stressful than scrambling for help at the moment of a crisis.

If you’re able to discuss a care plan with your parents now, it can help ensure that assistance will be available if and when they need it. A well-considered plan may even enable them to preserve most of their assets.

Don’t force the issue

Your parents are used to telling you what to do. Turning this dynamic on its head is likely to shut down the conversation before it’s even begun. Don’t start with demands. Ease your way into the conversation and steer things along accordingly.

You might begin by asking them about their retirement plans. From there, you can discuss the cost of living. Mention the fact that long-term care can be very expensive, very fast. It’s not uncommon for people’s life savings to vanish over a period of months.

At this point, you can broach the topic of Medicaid. Many people believe that Medicaid will fill in any gaps when it comes to long-term care. However, the income requirements to qualify for Medicaid are strict. Even people without significant assets can find themselves having to “spend down” to qualify.

If your parents have already created an estate plan, ask them when they last reviewed their plan. If it’s been more than a few years, it’s a good time to revisit it. Placing assets in a trust can help them qualify for Medicaid assistance without getting rid of their worldly possessions.

These things can take time

You may not be able to get through to your parents in a single afternoon. If they are uncomfortable or are unwilling to talk about this topic, let it rest. Always take the approach of doing what is best for your parents, rather than issuing demands. If you bring the subject up enough times, it will become more routine, and hopefully your parents will come around to understanding why long-term care planning is so important.