Planning for Home Health Care – Make Your Choices Known
If you were to ask a senior family member what are their most important concerns for aging, you would likely get a wide variety of answers. According to surveys frequently conducted among the elderly, the following three principal concerns or senior life wishes generally top the list:
1. Remaining independent at home without intervention from others
2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
3. Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets
To address these concerns or fulfill life wishes to maintain the quality of life wanted in the elder years, it simply takes a little preplanning. Unfortunately, few people do this kind of planning. No other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. We don’t like to think of our elder years in terms of health problems, but a sudden stroke, heart failure or onset of dementia could make it impossible to carry out our own wishes if preparation is not made ahead of time.
Mike McGee, Senior Advocate and owner of the northeast Cincinnati Comfort Keepers®’ office suggests that now is the time to meet with family members and geriatric professionals to draft your plan for achieving the best possible quality of life during your senior years. At a minimum, your plan should include documented answers to the following questions:
1. Where do I want to live once I need some assistance?
If you prefer to age in your own home as most people do, shop around and identify an in-home care provider such as Comfort Keepers to provide an in-home caregiver to help with your daily tasks. If you think living in a retirement community is a better solution for your individual needs, survey a variety of establishments with a family member or close friend to ensure all of your needs will be met in one place.
2. How will I pay for care during my later years?
The cost of long-term care services is something for which many Americans are not prepared, and costs are expected to continually rise in the future. Some payment options available for long-term care include private savings, long-term care insurance, homeowner reverse mortgage, Veterans Aid and Attendance Program, and your local Council on Aging program. In the planning stages, it is often beneficial to speak with a professional about how to begin this process. Elder care attorneys, accountants, geriatric care managers and professional care coordinators can explain various options and assist you in choosing the appropriate method(s).
3. Who will choose for me when I am unable to choose for myself?
Advance directives are legal documents that state the kind of medical care or end of life decisions you want made in your behalf. It is a way to communicate your wishes to family or health care professionals. The Living Will as part of your directives gives your consent or refusal for sustained medical treatment when you are not able to give it yourself. General Power of Attorney authorizes someone to handle your financial, banking and possibly real estate affairs as long as you remain competent. Adding the term “durable” along with appropriate text means that this document will remain in effect or take effect if you become mentally incompetent.
4. How do I want my estate dispersed after I am gone?
A professional estate planner will give you direction on how best to protect your assets for future needs and for Medicaid planning. A well-planned estate helps to prevent any unnecessary confusion or misunderstanding about your intentions and a will – the most basic of estate planning documents – includes instructions to an executor and the probate court on how to distribute the deceased person’s money and property. Another arrangement that has increased in popularity over the past 20 years is known as a living trust. As the name suggests, it is created while one is still living and can be used to manage one’s property before and after death.
It is critical to discuss, choose and document your future choices to prevent family conflicts during already stressful times. When you plan ahead for long term care, you are making decisions about your own life by choice, instead of other people making decisions for you in crisis. By planning for the future, you can relieve some of the worry about your senior years and instead, spend more time enjoying them.