Do you have a long-term care plan?
Do family members fully understand the details – where you want to live, where your important documents are, how you plan to pay for the care you might need?
It’s estimated that a person turning 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care or support as they age. With odds like that, it’s important to prepare for what lies ahead.
“It’s definitely not a topic most people want to think or talk about, so they tend to put it off for as long as possible,” said Mark Goetz, co-founder and president of Trail Ridge Home Care’s partner, the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN).“However, planning ahead will make it easier for family members and ensure your wishes are honored – especially if there’s a health crisis.”
While it’s never too late to make a plan, experts say getting an early start can help you better prepare for the challenges of aging. When putting your plan together, they recommend that you:
Evaluate your living situation. An overwhelming majority of seniors want to stay in the their own homes as they grow older, but most homes are not equipped to help people overcome the challenges that come with aging. If you want to age at home, plan for the modifications you’ll probably need to make – adding grab bars in the bathroom, installing handrails along stairways, making cabinets and closets more accessible and possibly installing ramps. When assessing your living situation, also consider how close you live to family members, friends, health care providers and others you may visit often or need to call upon for assistance.
Work with a professional. Partnering with a professional can help you anticipate potential challenges and develop a financial and personal plan that will guide you through them.
Make sure important documents are in order. Experts recommend that you have the following documents in place:
- A will that designates who will oversee your affairs after you pass and specifies who will receive proceeds from your estate.
- A financial power of attorney, so someone else can manage your financial affairs if you are unable to make decisions.
- A health care power of attorney, which gives a designee the authority to make important decisions about your health.
- A living will that explains your wishes about care and end-of-life decisions.
Be clear about goals and expectations. Think about what you want and, more importantly, what’s realistic. Be honest with yourself about how much help you may need, where it will come from and how you will pay for it.
Discuss details with family members. It’s never easy to talk to your family about aging and end-of-life wishes, but it’s necessary. At the very least, you should share how many financial accounts you have and where they can find them, where you keep Important documents and who should be contacted in the event of an emergency.
More information about long-term care options and planning is available through National Institute on Aging. Click here to learn more.