No matter what age you are, it’s never too early to start planning for your elder years.
Doing so puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you control over your future. You can decide where you live, who lives with you and what amenities and activities you’re able to enjoy. You can also ensure you have the finances and wherewithal you need to achieve those goals.
So how can you get started on your long-term care planning? What steps should you take now, before it’s too late? Just follow this guide.
The first step to planning for your long-term care is to learn about your options. What will your choices be when you age? Learn about the differences between assisted living, home care, independent living and senior living communities and try to understand what each option means for your health and well-being. You should also educate yourself on your family’s health history – especially that of your parents and grandparents. The more you can anticipate potential health problems, the better and faster you’ll be able to address them.
Prep your house.
Do you plan to stay in your home for the long haul? Then gradually, over time, start making it more accessible. Add in railings along walls and stairwells, integrate smart technology that adds convenience, and upgrade security measures to ensure your safety. If you think you may want a loved one to come stay with you as you age, consider adding a bedroom addition or garage apartment. Planning for these things now allows you to save up and slowly roll out your changes over the coming years.
Look into senior living communities.
If you think you might prefer the social aspect of a senior living community rather than the isolation of staying at home, start looking into potential facilities that might meet your needs. Start with your desired location and work backward. Which ones offer the services and amenities you imagine you’ll want? Which ones offer health care or memory care, if you know such issues run in your family? Make a short list of preferred communities, so when the time comes, your family knows your wishes.
Safeguard your health.
Your health is going to dictate how your elder years play out. If your health is poor, you may not get the future you envision – or any future at all. Being proactive and caring for yourself now can help safeguard that future you’ve planned and ensure you have many satisfying and healthy years ahead of you. Schedule regular physical screenings and make sure to have annual mammograms and prostate exams as you age. Get to know your family history, and be watchful of signs that could indicate a genetic issue is cropping up. The earlier you catch most conditions, the easier they are to treat.
Look into insurance options.
Know what insurance you will have available to you when the time comes. Will you have veteran’s benefits? Medicare or Medicaid? You can also look into long-term care insurance, life insurance and other private policies that can give you funds to use to health care and other necessary items.
Get your finances in order.
Saving for retirement is just one piece of the puzzle. Sure, you’ll need funds for your rent, utilities and other monthly expenses, but you’ll also likely want to leave your loved ones with something when you pass on. You also may want to help with your grandson’s college education or help your daughter buy that home she’s always wanted. Get with an accountant and discuss your long-term financial goals – as well as your projected income/work situation as you age. You might want to set up trusts for your loved ones, invest in high-yield savings accounts or take other actions to boost your finances as you age.
Talk with an attorney.
An attorney can help you do a few things that can help you as you age. First, they can file your will and testament, which provides instructions on how you’d like your assets and properties handled once you pass on. An attorney can also help you dictate your powers of attorney – people who have the legal right to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to. Powers of attorney are often used if someone is unconscious or has declining mental health; they are supposed to act in the person’s best interest when they are unable to fend for themselves.
Lastly, an attorney can put your advance directives in place. These stipulate how doctors should proceed should you become seriously disabled or be put on life support.
Sit down with your family.
Put your wishes down in a will and appointing a power of attorney will only get you so far. Consider actually sitting down with your loved ones to discuss your future and what your preferences are. Talk about expectations – who would need to help with caregiving, finances or other items, and what you’ve done to prepare for the future you’ve envisioned. The earlier you sit down with them, the better; they may be able to help you improve your plan.
Start Planning for Your Long-term Care Now
It’s easy to push long-term care to the back of your mind and file it away for another day, but the time to act is now – no matter what age you are. Waiting too long can take you out of the driver’s seat, putting others in control of your future instead of you. Want to make sure you get the future you envision as you age? Stop by Ganton’s Countryside today to learn about your options. From assisted and independent living options to memory care, rehabilitation, nursing care and home care, we offer a variety of options for every need and preference.