‘Tis the time of year for families to gather and enjoy being together—the only time during the year when most, if not all, of the family are in one place at the same time. Amid the good cheer, the food and the gifting, there will also be catching up on family news. Among the conversations that will flow, there’s one issue common to most families that—although it might not be the most popular subject to discuss during these days of festivity—should nevertheless be brought up at this very time, when you can take advantage of the moment. With everyone present and accounted for, this is probably the best opportunity to have the conversation—the one you might’ve been putting off—about the possibility of loved ones needing extended health care in the future.

If you know firsthand, as I do, how regret feels—wishing we had asked a loved one just one more question, wishing we knew exactly how they would prefer something be handled, wishing we had chosen our words differently—then, keep all that in mind for a moment and ask yourself, what if you were to consider being bold this year? Feeling the discomfort but initiating this difficult conversation anyway? ASK the challenging questions, then LISTEN to the answers. I suspect you’ll be glad you did.

Every family dynamic is different. That’s why it’s essential to learn those all-important wishes of the individual: how they’d like to be cared for, where they’d like to receive the care, whether there are expectations that family members will participate in the caregiving, or who among the family could assist with the care management. Very often, geography alone has a huge impact on the ability of family members to act as Care Manager for parents.

And if you’re expected to be a caregiver, there are dozens of potential hurdles you will face– the impact on jobs and careers, caring for your children, facing your own health situations, other commitments to juggle and schedule. These are only a few of the many reasons why finding out the facts and the intentions of the loved one(s)— the who, what, where, when, and how—is critical, enabling the family to know in advance what actions they’ll need to take when an adverse event occurs. This kind of knowledge can also prevent the hurt and hard feelings amongst family members often caused by simple misunderstandings due to the lack of information.

This holiday season, whether you’re the parent bringing up the subject with your adult children, or you’re the adult child initiating the conversation with your parents and siblings, THIS conversation about developing and implementing a PLAN will be an invaluable GIFT that will benefit everyone in the future.

As parent(s) of adult children, if you already have a long term care plan in place, take this opportunity to make sure your children know about your wishes and how the plan will be implemented if and when the need arises. If your children don’t yet have a plan for their own future needs, consider GIFTING the premiums to transfer their risk in the future.

If, on the other hand, you are the parent(s) but don’t yet have a plan in place, consider discussing this situation with your adult children — and looking into the wide variety of long-term care programs and strategies available today. If you’re hesitant to even bring up the subject because you think “We just

can’t afford it,” think again: adult children are often willing to contribute to the premiums for their parents; so, once again, how about being bold this year? Talk to your children about your concern.

Planning appropriately and insuring that your financial, physical and emotional house is in order could be the BEST PRESENT you could give this season.