Seven out of ten Americans will need some sort of long term care, and most people would rather have in home care, which means planning is essential. Yet many families don’t know how to plan or when it’s time to start. Here are some good reasons to plan;
25% of older Californians live alone, and one third of all older people have some form of disability, meaning they may require help with activities of daily living, companionship, medication reminders, meal planning and preparation and constant safety monitoring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
How long are we living now? Currently, anyone fortunate enough to hit 65 has an average life expectancy of 18.6 more years, meaning if you celebrate your 65th birthday without a major health event, you can expect to celebrate your 84th birthday as well.
Many older people live alone. Since older women outnumber older men and have longer live spans, half of all women aged 75 and older live alone.
How to start planning for quality again and in home care? First, simply having a conversation with an aging parent, keeping it simple and open ended is a good start. Ask questions such as, “Mom, how do you see your life when you are 80 years old, what’s most important to you? How do you feel about assisted living versus staying in your own home?”
A best practice is to begin planning for aging first when someone turns 18 years old. This is when every adult needs a basic will and advance care directive, naming someone to be a power of attorney in case of an accident or injury.
Over time, as circumstances change with marriages, births of children, deaths of parents, those plans should be reviewed and updated. Every five years is a good rule of thumb.
Here are some planning topics to consider when planning for home care or aging;
What resources are available and how to pay for long term care?
Is a reverse mortgage an option or something they’d consider?
Long term care insurance, is it available and how to start a claim?
Are there VA benefits to help pay for home care?
What are the values and goals of the individual, do they have an Advance Directive or Polst, who will be power of attorney?
It’s really about planning for a long life much more than it’s about planning for death, and this mindset may make bringing up these issues less of a heavy topic.
Having a plan for aging and in home care makes everyone feel better and takes away the pressure of making hurried decisions in a crisis for the elderly relatives we love.