When Is It Time For Seniors And Their Families To Start Long-Term Planning?
Planning is a good idea for almost everything, but especially when it comes to your future. Having a plan in place before it is needed is key. As one gets older, there many different areas to consider when planning for the ideal aging journey. This could mean ensuring legal documents are up-to-date, life insurance policies are in order, and setting up living arrangements.
Sometimes senior care and life planning can feel like a daunting topic, but it is important for families to have an open discussion so everyone is on the same page. The earlier you have the conversation, the better. Allowing time for research to be done and to ensure any necessary plans or tasks are accomplished. Be sure that this conversation allows for everyone’s concerns, wishes, and opinions to be heard and discussed thoroughly. Everyone might not always agree on what’s best for parents as they age, but in case decisions need to be made on an aging parent’s behalf, it’s important to understand their wishes.
Do your research. There are more options and avenues available than you might think. Taking a look at insurance policies, benefits, finances and legal documents is a good idea. Senior planning is not a quick and easy task, it takes time and many on-going discussions to reach a place of preparedness.
Planning starts with understanding your senior’s health, needs, and wants. Even if they are in good health, knowing their care and treatment preferences are essential to a successful plan. Areas to cover:
Discuss health needs, medication, chronic conditions, and routine health care
Record important health and medical contacts and their information (names, phone numbers, addresses)
Determine nearest and hospital preference
Discuss recent check ups and appointments, establish a relationship with their primary care physician if possible
A senior’s living situation and arrangement is a big topic to discuss and research. Aging comes with challenges that may alter living needs. If your parents would like to age at home or in a facility needs to be decided, and based on either, research and steps put in place to help their wishes be met. For example, if a senior wanted to live at home as long as possible, their home may require some remodeling for safety reasons. If they eventually need care or help around the house an in-home caregiver may be needed. If a facility is a better option, there are different types and senior communities that will cater to different needs and stages of aging. Types of facilities include assisted, independent, nursing homes, continuing care communities, and active adult communities. This topic goes hand-in-hand with finances and what financially is the best option.
Finances are not always an easy conversation, but an extremely important one. Especially when it comes to discussing how finances are to be handled if a senior can no longer manage their own and who this responsibility falls to. Important topics and areas to cover include:
Determine the seniors financial wishes
Home ownership, outstanding mortgage or loan debt associated with the home
Open financial accounts, where they are held, ensure they are titled correctly
Research on social security benefits
Assign beneficiaries as wanted
Set up autopay or find ways to streamline bill paying
Run through pricing scenarios for possible future situations
Legal issues are equally as important and needed when life care planning. Discussing legal issues as well as organizing documents and getting them in place before they are needed is essential. Different legal documents and areas to review:
Know where all important documents are being stored, collect copies if needed
Ask if a will has been drawn up and know where it is
Check in to see if a power of attorney for finances and healthcare has been determined, if not this is strongly encouraged
Review their estate plan to ensure beneficiaries and that everything is up-to-date and correct
The task of life care planning can be overwhelming, but it is necessary and easier when done with ample time and help. This is also a plan that evolves and changes with time, needs, and situations. Keeping the conversation open and fresh can help with unforeseen challenges or timetable changes. It is vital that you and your family know this is not something you have to do alone and that there are many different resources available to you. If you are interested in having a guide through the aging process and a navigator who can offer suggestions as well as recommendations, call us to learn more about care management or read about it here.