Many may know they need to discuss long term care, but many people just aren’t sure how to start the long term care conversation. Do you bring it up at the dinner table? Over the phone?

What do you say to start a long term care conversation when you’re concerned about an aging parent or loved one? How can you explain your concerns clearly and simply?

Difficult conversations such as this can be hard on families and often easier to ignore. But ignoring it doesn’t mean the problem ceases to exist. Studies show 57% of consumers haven’t talked to anyone about the potential need for long term care, according to Genworth’s Let’s Talk Research in March 2015.

Save yourself from emotional and financial heartache later by using the following tips to start the long term care conversation with your family.

Be Honest

While it may seem like a hard topic to discuss, tell your family you’d like to talk about these issues and ask if they’re open to talking about them.

Talk in Person

Make an effort to have the conversation face-to-face. While many families live far away from each other, carve out time at the next family gathering to talk about your concerns. If you can’t be there in person, take advantage of technology which can mimic the face-to-face time you need.

Ask Questions

Conversations can easily start by asking about the past when you’re together. Ask about their childhood memories and interactions with their parents. Then steer the conversation to the future. What do they want most in their future? What concerns or worries them about the future?

Share Someone Else’s Long Term Care Story

You probably know someone who has experienced long term care. Talk about how someone you, your spouse, or your parents know is dealing with aging or a long term care event. By discussing the good and the bad, you can use a story as a conversation starter to share your own concerns.

Offer Education

Show them an interesting article you found on long term care, the costs, and/or the importance of planning. This can be a great way to get people thinking about it and to follow up with questions or thoughts.

Ask Their Opinion

A great way to get a discussion started is by simply asking them for advice. Share that you’re thinking about retirement or are preparing a will and ask for their advice. Ask what they did to plan and if they feel prepared for their future.

Write a Letter

If conversations are difficult in your family, put your writing skills to work. Write a letter or an email and share the concerns you’d like to discuss. This method is helpful if you live far from home and time spent in person is short. A letter can get them thinking ahead about the conversation so they’re ready to chat.

No matter how you get the conversation started, encourage your family to talk about these important issues openly and freely. It may take more than one conversation to reach a conclusion, but now is the best time to start.

LTC Consumer is an independent, free online service to help consumers understand what long term care insurance is, how it works, and how to evaluate coverage options. Our mission is to provide an educational, no-pressure resource for learning about long term care planning, with the opportunity to speak with specialists who can help them.