So Mom and Dad are reaching that age when they are still active and self-sufficient, but you’re wondering how much longer this will last. What happens if they accidentally fall? What if their health suddenly declines? If you don’t have a plan in place for how to deal with emergencies, you will be left scrambling to figure out how your loved ones will spend the rest of their lives. That’s a lot of pressure. It is imperative to plan ahead for elder care to avoid catastrophe. Here’s what you need to do to get your ducks in a row.
Have an in-depth conversation with your loved one about their wishes
Have that difficult conversation about what your loved ones’ wishes are if their health declines and they are no longer able to take care of themselves. No one is particularly excited about this type of discussion, but it is necessary to have everyone in the family on board so that your loved ones’ wishes are met. Ask Mom and Dad if they have a vision for their life should their health decline. Ask them about spiritual beliefs, values and their ideas on how to face death. You can call upon other members of your family or community to help give guidance so that you are not completely alone in making these decisions. More than anything, it’s imperative that your loved ones’ wishes are respected and carried out with dignity.
Talk to a senior placement and referral agency sooner rather than later
It’s never too early to talk to a professional about assisted living programs and financing for your elderly loved ones. Oftentimes, people seek the help of a senior placements and referral agency only after an emergency, giving the agency just days to come up with a plan for the rest of the loved one’s life. Talk to an agent early about your loved one’s wishes, and the agent will help you find the best living situation to fit those needs.
It’s advisable to work with a local agency that has knowledge of the nursing homes and retirement communities in your area and can make the best recommendations. You can start out looking online just to get a feel for things, but as you narrow down your search, you’ll want to seek advice from someone in the community.
Look into financial assistance programs for elder care
Elder care is expensive. Nursing homes can be as much as $80,000 a year. If you’re not prepared ahead of time, you’ll be looking at some major sticker shock. Research government assistance options early. A popular option is Medicare. Check out the Medicare website for a breakdown of what it covers. Medicaid is another option, but coverage varies state to state. Visit the Medicaid website to learn what is covered in your state. If your loved one served in the military, he or she may qualify for VA assistance. Check the details online to see what the VA can offer in terms of elder care.
Assign a health care proxy
It’s important that someone be assigned to serve as your loved one’s health care proxy. You can name an individual or an agency to make medical decisions on their behalf should their health decline, making them unable to communicate. A person does not need to be terminally ill to name a proxy – the purpose of the proxy is to carry out the person’s wishes as they relate to health. Your loved ones should choose someone who not only understands their medical history but is aware of their wishes related to quality of life. The person your loved one assigns should be aware of any DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) wishes, religious beliefs, treatment preferences and more. Help your loved ones choose an individual or agency that will be there for them should they not be able to advocate for themselves.
Prepare legal documents like a will and living will
Get legal documents prepared early. Look into wills, living wills, powers of attorney and DNRs. The will should spell out after-death wishes and instructions on how to handle your loved one’s estate. A living will declares your loved one’s wishes related to health while he or she is still alive. A power of attorney is for the purpose of declaring a health care proxy.
Trusts are another powerful estate planning tool, simplifying moving assets to the next generation.
For more information about how you can plan ahead for your loved ones’ elder care, call us today at (312) 753-6000.