Long-Term Care Planning Month: Start your plans here
October is Long-Term Care Planning Month. If you don’t already have a long-term care plan and strategy in place, now is the perfect time to get started. Long-term care can take many forms, and it may transpire that you never make use of some of your plans, but acting early means you’ll never have to worry about feeling overwhelmed by decisions in a time of need. Advance planning puts you in the driver’s seat and ensures your family and friends know exactly what to do if they need to act or make decisions on your behalf.
When making your long-term care plans, you’ll notice four major decision categories: housing, health, legal and financial. Because long-term care planning can range from decisions about where you’ll live to physical care to financial management, you’ll want to start with the big picture and then factor in your options and preferences.
Take stock of your present living situation. How big is your home? Does it feature universal design elements? Is retrofitting a realistic option? Or does it make more sense to downsize, whether by moving in with a loved one, joining a retirement community or purchasing a smaller home? The answers to these questions will depend a great deal on your specific health needs and financial resources, but the answer to the question of where you want to live will go a long way to inform your other decisions.
If you determine the correct course for your long-term care plan is to live in your own home or with a loved one, you’ll want to consider to what extent your family can provide you with physical care and where you’ll need professional assistance. Many older adults rely on a combination of in-home care from family members and professionals. However, others who elect to live in retirement communities or assisted living communities have a whole other roster of care options available to them.
It’s true that the best time to do all of your long-term care planning is before you need long-term care, but if you have to prioritize one action, you’ll likely want to move legal decisions to the top of the list. This process will primarily involve drafting legal documents to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. LongTermCare.gov recommends preparing an advance directive with two types of documents:
- A medical power of attorney
- A living will
The completion of these documents will not only clarify your wishes, it also will give your loved ones peace of mind in the event that they need to step in.
One of the most significant factors in any long-term care plan is cost. Once you know what you want and need, you’ll want to plan for how to cover that cost. In addition to a comprehensive overview of care planning, LongTermCare.gov has a great list of resources to help you identify options ranging from private payment to any number of insurance plans. If you still have questions after reviewing these materials, consult a financial planner for further support.
Long-term care planning can be a complex process, but you don’t have to face it alone. Involve your family and trusted experts early and often to ensure you’re satisfied with your strategy.
How about a few health and wellness tips for the here and now to complement your long-term planning? Check out our library of senior health resources. Or get in touch to learn everything you want to know about life at Holiday Retirement.