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Do You Have a Plan For Senior Living?

Most of us don’t want to think about the day when we can no longer take care of ourselves, or when our loved ones can no longer live on their own. However, the reality is that we all will need some kind of long-term care. This means we may need assistance with daily activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, or using the restroom.

Planning ahead for senior living means having more time to make decisions and being proactive instead of reactive. Here are five steps you can take now to better prepare yourself should the day come you or your loved one needs long term care.

1. Get Educated

There are many senior living care options available, depending on the level of assistance you require. Study the different options like home health services, independent living, assisted living, adult day/foster care, and hospice to understand what services each provides. That way when you think it’s time for assistance, you will know the range of services and supports and will have a sense of what setting may be best for your loved ones’ or your personal needs.

2. Start Planning For The Cost

For the most part, a majority of long-term care costs are not covered by most health insurance plans or Medicare. That is where planning for senior living becomes so important.

Medicare only covers medical and rehabilitative care (doctors and nurses) and does not cover non-medical care including help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Medicaid will cover the cost of long-term care but only after an individual has depleted all their assets, and the choice of Medicaid facilities or Medicaid in-home services are very expensive.

There are private pay options such as long-term care insurance, which experts recommend should be purchased in your mid-50s. Life insurance and your personal income and savings are other options to pay for senior living. Talk with insurance agents, perhaps a financial advisor, and loved ones to begin planning.

The cost of senior living and your care options for coverage vary depending on your state and the type of services you need. As you meet with various providers, make sure to ask about their costs, billing practices, and if they accept any assistance programs.

3. Think About Your Health Care Wishes and Let Your Loved Ones Know

According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one out of four older Americans face questions about medical treatment near the end of life but are not capable of making those decisions. It’s important to discuss values and goals of healthcare with loved ones and physicians.

Planning ahead is always important, but it’s even more so for advance directives. Advance directives allow individuals to request or deny a specific type of medical treatment if they are nearing the end-of-life.

Advance directives often include a living will and an appointed healthcare power of attorney. A living will details what kind of medical treatment (if any) a patient wishes to receive if they can no longer make their own medical decisions.

When you have your care wishes in a legal document or a durable medical power of attorney, make sure your loved ones know. It will help give them peace of mind and prevent questions, confusion, or disagreements should you become incapable of making medical decisions.

Make sure to share your advance directive with key individuals and review your decisions from time to time.

4. Find The Right Information & Organize the Most Helpful Resources

You will need to assess your loved ones’ needs and gather the right information; this includes important documents such as wills and insurance policies. It’s also important to organize helpful national and local resources that are available to support caregivers—especially information about public benefits programs that might provide just the extra boost families may need. Putting all the useful information in one central place will help avoid uninformed decisions and expensive mistakes later on.

5. It’s Never Too Late, Start Planning Now

No matter where you are in the caregiving journey, it’s never too late to start a plan for senior living. By preparing now, you can relieve some of the pressure and stress. That way, when the time comes, you can find peace of mind in knowing you’ve made the best decision for you or your loved one… and more confident about taking the next steps.