There’s much discussion around the end of life topics, but it’s the part before needing end of life strategies that are ignored. They are the ones we discuss in my Facebook group most often and those come with a bag of dilemmas, especially if we don’t have family nearby.
When planning for retirement, aging professionals advise seniors to get the legal documents in order, select a health care proxy, an executor, and to share your end of life preferences. What’s not said very often, “to prepare a care plan.” To me, knowing how you want to be cared, who will do the caring, and where that care is given, are significant issues we fail to recognize and are unable to do anything about if an emergency happens.
The population of older adults continues to grow. Just look at the live counter at Seniorcare.com. It illustrates that today the 65+ group excels beyond 50 million. And if you notice, the counter keeps rolling forward. Longevity and better medical care helps older people live longer. It’s great news, but if an individual is not prepared for the middle part of long-term care, they’ll have a miserable existence.
Take for instance losing the ability and desire to cook, clean house, do maintenance, and shop. And what happens if you can’t drive? Who will take you shopping, to the doctor’s office, or sit with you during a medical test. I hear complaints about medical staff requiring a person to be with the patient during a procedure or test. And if you don’t have someone to help out, then you’re out of luck. Hiring volunteer or Lyft is not permitted.
My advice, plan for the middle. I learned the strategy from Linda J. Camp at Turning Point Consulting. She advises clients, when preparing for the in-between and selecting a person to oversee your care, they should embrace the following criteria:
- Is ethical
- Able to figure things out and ask questions
- Have excellent communication skills
- Has the stamina to advocate
- Can be objective
- Is knowledgeable about death with dignity
- Will not impose own personal beliefs, values on your decisions
Donna Schempp, care manager and elder care expert and member of the Seniorcare.com Aging Council, suggests that “professionals should challenge older adults and help them play the “what if” game and give them scenarios that question and urge them to think through how they would respond in different situations.”
Another senior care expert and council member, Alex Chamberlain, EasyLivingFL.com, believes a trusted financial professional can help clients address the mid-care needs by saying, “here’s your situation now and what might happen in the future.” By giving an example of what if and what can happen is eye-opening.”
Something else to remember, Kathy Birkett, SeniorCareCorner.com, tells us, “Adults need practical solutions from experts they trust, ones who will not scam when participating in financial and long-term care planning. There are so many mixed messages about what will help their finances long term and what could hurt them, especially on matters about Medicaid. Seniors don’t know what to believe, and gaining access to accurate, credible financial help free from abuse is needed.”
I’ll leave you with the most alarming fact, Stephen D. Forman, Long-term Care Associates, Inc., “As the saying goes, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Or in this case, you can’t manage money that’s not there. Advisors who wish seniors would “manage their finances and long-term care” must recognize that 45% of older adults (55+) have $10,000 or less saved for retirement.”
Carol Marak, aging alone advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in Gerontology at the U.C. Davis, School of Gerontology.
Updated: February 13, 2017