Family, Friends, Professionals, and Your Long Term Care

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

This list helps you to prepare for you long term care needs by asking for an inventory of the people in your life, what roles they play now, and how you would like them to be able to participate if your needs for assistance grow.

Imagining what you will be like in 10, 15, or 20 years is hard. But your life so far gives you some clues. What were you like 10, 15, or 20 years ago? Have you changed a lot, or is there a consistent pattern? Have you changed jobs or careers?

Have you moved around the country or internationally? Have you been married, divorced, or widowed — more than once? Have your spending or savings habits changed? Or has your life gone along in more or less planned and predictable ways?

These questions are not intended to be value judgments about one way of life or another but simply a way for you to consider your tolerance for risk (or, if you prefer, adventure), need for stability, and comfort with change.

  • Who do you consider your family? The people you include can be spouses, parents, children, grandparents, siblings, cousins, or other relatives. They can also be domestic partners, companions, and other people with whom you have a very close relationship.

    • Which of these people do you rely on most for emotional support and comfort?

    • Who would you call first if you needed help in making a medical decision? Settling a financial problem? Talk about your will?

    • Who lives closest to you? Or with you? Does distance present a problem in getting together regularly or on short notice? You might be able to discuss a problem with someone far away but that person is not going to be able to help out in an emergency.

    • Do any of these people rely on you for the same sorts of assistance? For example, financial support? Advice and counseling? Day-to-day assistance?

    • How do you currently communicate with your family? Frequent visits? Phone? E-mail? Texts? Or only at special events?

    • Are there tensions within your family about money, relationships, obligations, or other factors?

    • Are there family members with whom you have no relationships that you would like to involve in your life?

  • Overall, how important is it to you to be close (geographically and emotionally) to your family?

  • Beyond family, do you have close friends who in some ways substitute for family or add to family support?

    • Could you call on them for the kinds of assistance that might be expected first from family?

    • What limits would you anticipate friends might place on assistance?

  • Do you have trusting relationships with professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, clergy, and others who might be able to advise you on matters relating to long-term care? If not, can you identify people who might fill this role?

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