Aging and Eldercare – What’s Your Plan?

Susan A. McCants Wealth Planning

Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “When you fail to plan you are planning to fail”. Many of us and most of our parents have failed to plan for their own care. The need for extended care is a reality, and according to the National Medicare Handbook at least 70% of those over the age of 65 will need long term care services.

What’s your plan?

Your plan begins taking shape with a discussion about how you will know when you or someone you love needs care and what that care may look like. The discussion may be uncomfortable but is necessary. It is recommended that you write down a long-term care strategy. Most of us plan to remain at home if possible; but what if that is not possible? Answering some questions can help families avoid many of the pitfalls of not properly planning for extended care needs.

  • What role will your spouse or your adult child(ren) play in your care needs?
  • Where will the care be given, and who will pay for the care?
  • Will you hire a professional caregiver service to provide the care for you at home?
  • If you are unable to be at home, what facility would be top of the list?
  • How am I funding my future care needs?
  • How often should the plan of care be reviewed?

How to go about writing the plan and including important documents.

Writing a long-term care action plan can be as simple as answering a few questions and including the right documents. Having a written plan and strategy minimizes the emotional and sometimes physical stress to spouses, partners, or children. Having a plan allows family members to supervise the care rather than being solely responsible for the day -to- day care needs. Having a plan in place allows you to let your loved ones know what you would like to see happen. Thoughtful planning not only reduces stress, it can curtail disagreements between family members that may arise over a loved one’s care needs; keeping the family intact and healthier.

It is important to include those documents in your plan that further support your wishes. Such documents are your Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, Do Not Resituate Order, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Form, Health Insurance Policies, Long-term Care Insurance Policies, List of Medications and End of Life Wishes (which may be as simple as a family discussion documented).

What are some signs that may signal a need for a plan to be implemented?

Dr. Jim McCabe with Eldercare Resources shares the following issues to watch for in a family member that may signal a need for assistance and time for their plan to be put into place.

  • Is your relative having problems with memory or decision-making?
  • Is the person unsteady when walking or have difficulty getting in and out of a chair or bed?
  • Does the home present any danger of falls?
  • Is there adequate food in the house and how is the shopping done?
  • Is there a good system for managing medications?
  • Is your loved one isolated? Do they have interactions with others on a regular basis?
  • Is managing money a problem? Are they at risk for financial abuse?

As author and financial advisor Coventry Edwards- Pitt discusses in her new book Aged Healthy, Wealthy & Wise “All of us would love our parents to take the steps necessary to enjoy their later years. We would appreciate clarity from our parents about their wishes for where to live during their later years, their end of life wishes, and the meaning behind their estate planning decisions. But judging by how infrequently these topics are discussed, few of us will have that clarity.” Her book focuses on the practical steps we can take to enjoy our later years and impart this gift of clarity to our own children. No parent wants to be a burden – this is about how not to be.

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