Long-Term Care from A to Z – Part 4
In our last post we covered some of the issues with being a caregiver. What about the other side of the coin? It’s time for a reality check…Are you prepared to NEED a caregiver?We often see ourselves as much younger than our chronological age, and only get a taste of reality when there is a new ache or getting out of bed is suddenly harder. Eventually we will get old, and need help with activities of daily living. Don’t think it will happen to you? OK, let’s consider a few truths: When you don’t die, you live a long life. When you live a long life you get old. When you get old you need care. It’s really that simple. But it’s not so simple, is it?
It is safe to assume you are in the majority of Americans and will eventually need care. More than 70 percent of us over age 65 will need care before we see the Pearly Gates. What is unsafe is to have no plan for that care. The sad truth is that more than 90 percent of Americans have not discussed key Long-Term Care issues with their immediate family.
There are a number of very important steps everyone should take:
1. Have a serious conversation with family dealing with needs, desires and capabilities of all parties. Talk and listen about health issues, what doctors will be involved in care, where the person needing care wants to be when care is needed (most want to be at home).
2. Discuss legal and financial issues, including income, assets and obligations. The time to do this is before you’re in the middle of a crisis, when rushed decisions may not be the best.
3. Make sure there is a current will, appropriate power(s) of attorney for when the senior is no longer able to make financial and medical decisions, and advanced medical directive (clearly indicating wishes regarding medical and life-sustaining procedures).
4. Collect and assemble documents regarding assets (such as deeds, investment reports, account statements) and debts (such as promissory notes, contracts, leases), and this may be the hardest part – make sure the family has access to all of this information.
When the time comes that you need care, providing that care, and the condition requiring it, will run the entire family. It will undoubtedly have a profound impact. The family will want to help, and will try. But they may not be capable, or you may not want them to do so. There is often a desire to maintain a reasonable level of dignity when it comes to family and bodily functions. Sorry to be blunt, but this is not a time or place to be dancing on eggshells. This is the time to get real, while there is still time.