An Awkward Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving traditions include a delicious turkey dinner, and families gathering together. Sometimes, holiday meals provide the best chance to talk about family matters that are uncomfortable.

Long-term care insurance specialists ACSIA Partners LLC said that, in recent years, Thanksgiving has become a time to talk about the long-term care needs of aging parents. For some families, it’s perhaps the only time they have all year when the whole family is gathered, face to face.

It’s a discussion that’s worth having before it becomes absolutely necessary. And it’s one that most families will have at some point: ACSIA Partners cites federal estimates showing that roughly 70% of Americans over 65 will need some type of long-term care.

In a statement, ACSIA Partners CEO Denise Gott offers these suggestions for middle-aged children:

If a family member already needs long-term care, don’t hesitate to focus on that and go into the details. Is there money for a professional caregiver? Or does a family member act as unpaid caregiver; and if so, what personal price does that person pay?

If the middle-aged children notice a family member showing signs of requiring long-term care sometime soon, bring that up as well. “They look around and see who needs a little help getting out of a car or sitting at the table,” says Gott. “They notice if an elder is starting to forget things or have trouble finding the right words, and they call it to others’ attention. They also bring up the financial issue, such as whether the person is covered by long-term care insurance.”

Siblings, especially those in their 40’s or 50’s, also look at their own future needs during Thanksgiving. “They reflect on whether they themselves have suitable financial protection in place, or whether they’re letting the years go by, risking higher rates or disqualification when health problems arise.”

Of course, none of this makes for a relaxed family gathering. Thanksgiving should be about giving thanks for the good things in life, after all. But Gott makes a good point about it being a unique opportunity to have all the family present, in one place.

Our only suggestion would be to hold the grave, serious discussions before the meal, and save the joyous things for the table.


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