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Long Term Care: To Plan, Or Not to Plan?



We are having an ongoing discussion amongst our friends, all in our late 60s, about what is the most successful way to manage your long-term health care needs in the last years of life.

One side feels you shouldn’t give it a thought and let the kids worry about it. After all, you took care of them, so let them take care of you. Another side feels you should plan and find a retirement community that has built-in nursing care options. 

My husband and I are conflicted about future care planning for ourselves. On the one hand, we don’t want to even think about it at all. There is the other part of me that says that we’re pretending we won’t age and therefore leaving our children with the potential burden of trying to figure out what to do with us. 

We would like to have some thoughts about what the best way is to approach getting to our last years.



Almost everyone will face this, and you’ve definitely hit upon two schools of thought. Let’s discuss.

First off, the “do nothing, let the kids worry about it” option allows the children to do whatever they want. If you don’t have strong feelings about where you live, and you feel that your children will make good decisions for you, this may be the best for you. It’s letting life happen as it may.

With this wait-and-see approach, you place all the decision-making responsibility on your children. In this situation, it’d be very helpful to let your kids at least know what your preferences might be and what financial resources you have to support your care needs should it be required.

Conversely, “planners” explore all their options and choose their desired placements. Yes, time can change situations and facilities. Planners though, tend to adjust their plan as they go. 

Those that plan out the details of their care needs do a significant favor to their children by reducing the burden of those decisions. Yes, the children will still need to provide some assistance. What they will not need to do is make every choice, which can be the most stressful element of the caregiving process.

I’m not certain whether one approach is better than the other. I do believe that living life to the fullest is great, with some degree of planning to give your children direction should they need to act on your behalf. That’s the considerate approach to take.

I wish you and your contemporaries well in your retirement years.