The possibility of experiencing a long-term care event later in life is a real concern for retirees and their families. That’s why it’s important to have a productive discussion with your senior parents about long-term care needs while they are still healthy.

As your parents age, there’s a significant chance they will need long-term care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of Americans turning 65 this year will develop a disability serious enough that they will need help with the basic activities of daily living. Most will need care for less than two years, but one in seven will need help for more than five years.1

As difficult as it might be to imagine your parents being unable to care for themselves, the thought of discussing this with them may seem even more challenging. But it’s critical to broach the subject as soon as possible before care is needed. The best decisions can be made when there is still time to consider all options rather than wait until an emergency strikes when fewer options will be available.

Ways to Engage With Parents

There are several ways to start discussing long-term care with your parents. Keep in mind as you have the conversation to be respectful and understanding if your parents are reluctant to talk about this uncomfortable topic. Let them know it’s a difficult conversation for you, too.

  • Don’t surprise them. Give them time to think about these important decisions and to get used to talking to you about something they may see as strictly “their business.”
  • Ask your parents what their wishes are on the subject. They may have already discussed it with each other. If that’s the case, then they need to know that you’re on board with their long-term care plan.
  • Explain the various options available. Refer to “assisted living facilities” or “a senior living community.” These have fewer negative connotations than “nursing home.”
  • Remind them that being proactive helps maintain control.
  • Make sure the right family member is initiating the conversation. If your older parent doesn’t want to discuss this topic with you, maybe a sibling or other family member will have better luck.
  • Try not to equate aging with getting Alzheimer’s or another debilitating disease. If your parents do have any existing health conditions, they’re likely aware of those issues already.
  • If your parents are still leading productive lives, then they may not see why they need to make plans for future care. That’s okay; just keep reminding them that the decisions they make today about long-term care could affect them tomorrow
  • Keep in mind that you can’t force them to do anything. Your role is to simply be there for them, give them information and support them in their decision. They are adults, and as such, it’s important to respect how they want to live their lives.
  • One way to ease into the conversation is by describing something you read about the need for financial planning. For example, you could say, “I recently read an article that Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, and this sort of care can cost several thousand dollars a month. Have you ever thought about getting long-term care insurance to pay for this sort of care if you needed it?”
  • If your parents already have long-term care insurance, you’ll be less concerned about the financial aspect. It may not be too late for them to develop a plan, so ask about any planning they may have already done.
  • Even if they have not purchased long-term care insurance, they may have allocated funds to cover this risk if needed. Work with your Financial Advisor to determine how much is available, and if lifestyle changes need to be made if their assets are insufficient.

How Can Families Prepare for the Costs?

The average cost for a private unit in an assisted living community or nursing home is more than $9000 per month, depending on where one lives.2 There are various options available to help your parents address costs related to long-term care needs. They include:

  • Using their savings
  • Veterans long-term care benefits
  • Long-term care insurance

Some aging retirees may need to rely on their own families to assist with not only the costs—but the care as well— which may be both financially and emotionally draining. This situation often occurs due to lack of planning, which is why it’s so critical to have a conversation about getting a plan in place sooner rather than later. A Financial Advisor can assist and help them consider an option that is in their best interest.

Important Considerations

If your parent has already experienced a long-term care event, the conversation will be different. Let your parent know that you want to be able to do what is best for them, then suggest that that will require some discussions about what your parent wants and needs.

You don’t have to cover everything in one conversation, but you should try to find out the following information over time:

  • Where your parents prefer to receive care. Most likely, they will want to remain in their own home. If that’s the case, ask them to consider whether their home will meet their needs. Do they have a shower that’s easily accessible? Would they be able to make it up and down the stairs? Encourage them to make any improvements to the house sooner rather than later or consider downsizing to a place that will better suit their requirements.
  • Under what circumstances would they consider receiving care in a facility that can cater to their specific needs— such as a memory care facility? You might encourage them to investigate options available in their community to determine which ones they find acceptable. Let them know you’re asking them to do this because you want it to be their choice, not yours.
  • Who will provide care, or more appropriately, who would they prefer to provide care? If your parents are counting on each other to provide their care, gently point out that that might not be possible later in life, especially if they both eventually need assistance.
  • Encourage them to have a back-up plan to pay for a home health aide or assisted living. If you are the back-up plan, discuss whether you would be able to provide the care they might need. For instance, if you have children of your own who count on you for financial or caregiving support, helping your parents might be a challenge.

Working With Janney

Depending on your financial needs and personal preferences, you may opt to engage in a brokerage relationship, an advisory relationship or a combination of both. Each time you open an account, we will make recommendations on which type of relationship is in your best interest based on the information you provide when you complete or update your client profile.

When you engage in an advisory relationship, you will pay an asset-based fee which encompasses, among other things, a defined investment strategy, ongoing monitoring, and performance reporting. Your Financial Advisor will serve in a fiduciary capacity for your advisory accounts.

For more information about Janney, please see Janney’s Relationship Summary (Form CRS) on which details all material facts about the scope and terms of our relationship with you and any potential conflicts of interest.

By establishing a relationship with us, we can build a tailored financial plan and make recommendations about solutions that are aligned with your best interest and unique needs, goals, and preferences.

Contact us today to discuss how we can put a plan in place designed to help you reach your financial goals.

This is for informative purposes only and in no event should be construed as a representation by us or as an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. The factual information given herein is taken from sources that we believe to be reliable, but is not guaranteed by us as to accuracy or completeness. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of individual investors. Employees of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC or its affiliates may, at times, release written or oral commentary, technical analysis, or trading strategies that differ from the opinions expressed within. Janney makes no representation that an individual will obtain gains or losses similar to those illustrated. The concepts illustrated here have legal, accounting and tax implications.


1. What Is the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Services and Supports? | ASPE

2. Genworth Cost of Care Survey, November 2021


Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, its affiliates, and its employees are not in the business of providing tax, regulatory, accounting, or legal advice. These materials and any tax-related statements are not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used or relied upon, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Any such taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

About the author

Robert Wheeler

Regional Insured Solutions Consultant

Read more from Robert Wheeler

For more information about Janney, please see Janney’s Relationship Summary (Form CRS) on which details all material facts about the scope and terms of our relationship with you and any potential conflicts of interest.

To learn about the professional background, business practices, and conduct of FINRA member firms or their financial professionals, visit FINRA’s BrokerCheck website: