5 Must-Have Family Conversations in the New Year

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5 Family Conversations to Have in 2021

It’s 2021, and the whole year is in front of us. If 2020 left you aching for more time with family and friends, 2021 is full of hope that we will be able to spend more time with those we love most. Because we spent so much time apart in 2020, normal, necessary family conversations were likely pushed into 2021. Take a look at 5 conversations families should be having in 2021 and learn some tips for having those tough conversations.

5 Conversations to Have with Your Family in 2021

1. What are your family goals for 2021?

The New Year is a time to reflect on the last year and plan for the coming year. It’s the perfect excuse to gather your family and have planning conversations. Making a list of your goals and your family’s goals for the year can provide a framework for conversations and a launching point for a year of productivity and change. Examples of family goals may include downsizing, researching long-term care communities, or even just planning on spending more time together, making up for lost time in 2020.

2. What kind of care does your family need to consider in the coming year?

2020 was wrought with change, and maybe your family is now considering what the future looks like. Will the year ahead include a move to senior living? If so, what kind of care services are needed? Does the senior living community need to offer a continuum of care services ranging from independent living to assisted living and memory care? Consider your potential care needs now before they become stressful decisions made in an emergency.

3. How will the family pay for any expected or unexpected care services?

Long-term care can be expensive. What needs to happen to pay for care services? Will a house need to be sold? Will the family pitch in for care costs? The financial impact of senior care can be stressful, but it does not have to be. There are various ways for families to pay for senior care, and when planned for and spoken about openly, families are finding senior care fits into their budgets.

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4. Are end of life wishes documented and made known to family members?

This one may be the toughest conversation to have, but it may also be the most important. Because the end of life care and wishes are incredibly personal, it may feel like an intrusion of privacy to talk about openly. However, speaking openly can save confusion, hurt feelings, time, and even money in the future.

5. Is it still safe for loved ones to drive?

Many adult children are concerned about their parents’ safety behind the wheel, and many seniors feel unsafe driving. Driving is an indicator of independence, and it is not easy to give up. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 500 senior drivers are injured in accidents daily. Having an open conversation about safety behind the wheel now can save money,  time, and stress down the road. If it is decided that some family members should not be driving, discuss transportation options so that no one feels isolated. Split up errands or consider paying for transportation to ensure everyone can get where they need to go.

5 Tips for Having Tough Conversations

Tough conversations are, well…tough. They are difficult and awkward and messy – but also totally necessary. Here are five ways you can navigate the tough conversations with your family this year.

1. Tackle the tough topics sooner rather than later

Whether you are an adult child concerned about your parent’s future or a parent wanting to make your wishes known, having these conversations now when everyone is healthy and thinking rationally can help ease stress in crisis. If and when an emergency strikes, families can fall back on these conversations to take action. The New Year is the perfect time to have these conversations, outline the year ahead, take stock of the necessary documents, and plan for a more unpredictable time.

2. Do your research

Having names and places takes away part of the unknown and can bring comfort and security to families navigating a new chapter. Before calling a family meeting, do your research. Take the time to gather information from local long-term care communities, retirement communities, and area agencies on aging. If you are considering a move to senior living in 2021, take the time to think about what kind of care you want that community to offer and what kind of amenities you want in your new home. You could even bring brochures from a couple of local communities.

3. Speak openly about financial issues

Paying for long-term care can be stressful. Does the family have savings or long-term care insurance that can help? What about Medicaid or veteran’s benefits? It’s important to know how the family will cover care costs in advance of needing care. This can bring the entire family peace of mind knowing that the financial pieces are in place should unexpected expenses arise.

4. Do not overlook end of life care

This may be the toughest part of an already tough conversation. For adult children having this conversation can seem callous, and for parents discussing this with their children, it may be dismissed. The reality is that end of life is part of life, and planning accordingly can save time, money, stress, and grief.

5. Start and end the conversation on a positive and caring note

It is important to remember the ‘why’ behind this conversation. You are having these tough conversations because you love your family. You want everyone to be as prepared for the year ahead as possible. Start and end your conversation letting your family know that you love them and care about their future.

What conversations do you need to have with loved ones in 2021? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your comments with us in the space below. 

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About the author

Alissa has been working in marketing and the senior living industry for over 8 years. With a B.S. in advertising from the University of Illinois, Alissa has worked all over the world as a freelance communications strategist and writer. Published in Forbes, Senior Finance Advisor, Alzheimers.net and on other leading senior care blogs, she leverages her working knowledge of the senior care industry with leading research and best practices to create engaging content benefitting seniors and their caregivers. In her free time, Alissa loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with her family.