Planning for Your Elder Years

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If we were to ask an older person what his or her most important concerns for aging are, we would probably get a variety of answers. According to surveys frequently conducted among the elderly, the most likely answers we would receive would include the following three principal concerns or life wishes:

  1. Remaining independent in the 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 and income.

To address these concerns or wishes and maintain the quality of life wanted in the elder years, it simply takes a little preplanning.

It is human nature not to worry about an event until it happens. We may prepare financially for unexpected financial disasters by covering our homes, automobiles and health with insurance policies. However, no other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. It drastically alters or completely eliminates the three principal lifestyle wishes listed above.

The majority of the American public does not plan for this crisis of needing eldercare. The lack of planning also has an adverse effect on the older person’s family, with sacrifices made in time, money and family lifestyles.

Because changing demographics and potential changes in government funding. The current generation needs to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.

Let us look at some facts.

  • The population of the “very old,” older than 85, is the fastest growing group in America. This population is at the highest risk for needing care.
  • Medical science is preventing early sudden deaths, which means living longer with impaired health and greater risk of needing long term care.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association estimates the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia beyond 85 to be about 46 percent of that population.
  • It is estimated that 6 out of 10 people with need long term care of some type during their lifetime.
  • Children are moving far away from parents or parents move away during retirement making long distance care giving difficult or impossible.
  • Government programs, already stretched thin for long term care services, will experience even greater stress on available on available funds in the future.

One of the important things for planning is how to maintain your lifestyle as you age. You may be healthy enough to stay in your own home with help provided for the following activities of daily living: maintaining a home, providing meals, supervision, companionship, transportation and shopping services.

This type of care at home is non-medical and must be provided free of charge by family, friends, or volunteers or the care must be paid for out-of-pocket. Government programs, in most cases, will not pay for this kind of care.

It is wise to plan now how you will pay for care when it is needed. In evaluating your future income you may find in necessary to add some resources such as long term care insurance to pay for this care. Long term care insurance must be purchased while you are younger and healthy. Failing health, stroke or other aging issues will not allow you to qualify for this insurance.

The process of long term care planning involves the following four principles.

  1. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to success.
  2. Having funds to pay for care expands the choices for care settings and providers.
  3. Using professional help relieves stress, reduces conflict, and saves time and money.
  4. Success is assured through a written plan accepted by all parties involved.

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 was not made ahead of time.

The National Care Planning Council provides information on what Medicaid and Medicare will cover as well as an overview of how their services can help you create and execute your long term care plan. www.longtermcarelink.net.

Nancy Webre, BS, MS, CEO / Owner, Geriatric Care Manager of Evergreen In-Home Care Services, 541-389-0006, www.evergreeninhome.com. Evergreen In-Home Care Services specializing in elderly care in Bend.

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