Senior care: What’s your plan?

Guest Column
Leann Herman
Monticello Nursing & Rehab Campus

     Most people understand how important it is to plan for the future. For example, starting a college fund for your children, investing in a retirement account, purchasing life insurance, and even planning funeral services are all ways individuals can help ease future worries for their families. However, one area where individuals and families struggle is planning for the care that a loved one will need when they are no longer able to care for themselves. Oftentimes families avoid these discussions about the future because they don’t want to think about their loved one’s health failing and losing their independence. These are difficult conversations to have with the people we love the most. And while you may not be thinking of it now, putting together a caregiving plan with your loved one and family members will help avoid a crisis, minimizing confusion and tension in the future.

     If you haven’t started the conversation with your loved ones about a caregiving plan, it’s time to start. Talk to your parents and find out what their wishes and hopes are as they begin to need additional help paying bills, doing chores around the house, preparing meals, bathing and dressing, etc. How will your family respond when something happens that leaves them unable to communicate their wishes? Do they have a family member in mind who they would like to provide care for them? Are they open to home health aides coming into their home to help? How much does home health care, assisted living and nursing home care cost? When would they consider downsizing from their current living arrangement and move to an apartment? Have they visited any of the area assisted living centers? Do they have their finances in place to pay for future care? These conversations are difficult and approaching them from an attitude of “listening” rather than “telling” will help those involved feel respected and understood. Let your parent know you will be having similar conversations with your own children to begin planning for your future as well.

     Next, help your parents get documents in place to ensure their care planning is carried out. A living will and medical power of attorney are legal documents, which give a designated, trusted individual the legal authority to make health care decisions on their behalf. A financial power of attorney designates an individual to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf. Understanding your parent’s financial situation, health insurance benefits and limitations, and the cost of care is important in planning for future needs. Keep a file of important information including social security and Medicare information, health, life and long term care policy information, legal papers such as the POA and living will, and military records. Start getting information organized; put a plan in place. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur leaving your family feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

     For more information and assistance on creating a plan, call Leann at Monticello Nursing and Rehab, 319-465-5415.



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