I’ve ben working in the Above 50 market for many years and I love it. I love helping clients through a difficult time of transition and I love training other professionals to do the same. So here’s a bit of clarity I had while I was driving to an appointment yesterday. Without exception, no one wants to be a burden on their family when their health declines. In fact, the stress of not being prepared in advance can actually speed the decline when it begins. I’m serious, I’ve seen it. That’s why today I want to talk about how to plan for long-term care before you ever need it.
First things first, long-term care can mean many different things. Typically, and for our purposes today long-term care will refer to medical, personal, social, financial and legal issues. Whether it’s from age, an accident or illness, adults with diminished capacity will find each of these areas challenging. Let’s talk about them individually.
You better believe making medical decisions can be problematic. You may be in a situation where you are unable to even speak on your own behalf. Think about it, this is why people have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). Of course, we don’t need to be so dramatic. Many times age or illness will creep up more slowly and by the time you need to make some decisions, your cognitive reasoning is impaired. Maybe it’s just the stress that makes it so hard. Regardless, you can take the pressure off by planning in advance.
- Have your medical professionals chosen, plan for in home care and even be ready for assisted living. Having these choices off your plate when the time comes will make a huge difference.
- Determine a care advocate. This is a Personal Care Representative who will represent the interests of a loved one receiving or preparing to receive long term care. They will be in charge of arranging funding for services, and coordinating care. Many times a care advocate is a spouse or child, a caregiver, a friend, or a trusted adviser. Just make sure everyone involved understands who’s handling things.
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES
For most of us, personal and social issues are the last things we think about during times of crisis. Why? We just have much “bigger fish to fry” in those moments. If you plan early it’s handled and when the small things are handled, the bigger things don’t seem quite so big. Consider assistance with activities of daily living like, dressing, bathing, eating, maintaining hygiene, going to the bathroom, household cleaning, meal preparation, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor, and taking medications.
FINANCIAL DECISIONS & GOALS
It’s a great idea to give your designated family members a list of assets, income, savings, investments, property and insurance. This will save your loved ones hours and hours of time that they’d rather be spending with you. Prepare to pay for in-home and long-term care. Make it clear what you will be spending where. Also, explain where that money should come from so that assets are not liquidating prematurely.
LEGAL DOCUMENTATION & REPRESENTATION
Please, please, please have all of your legal documentation drafted and signed in advance. I’m talking the full estate plan with an elder law attorney. This will include things like a living trust, a pour-over will, advanced directives and various powers of attorney. You might also want to include requests pertaining to care preferences, wishes pertaining to end-of-life scenarios, wants concerning preferred medical treatments, a list of health care providers, desires for disposition of property and instructions to a potential care advocate or representative…all in writing.