By Sarah Duffy, Boomerang staff writer
At 96, my great aunt's eyesight was getting progressively worse due to glaucoma and macular degeneration. Earlier this year, my mother and I moved her from Florida to an apartment close to my parents. Despite the physical challenges she faced, she was able to continue to live alone with assistance from my mother. Last month, however, she fell and sustained a serious injury. She was hospitalized for a few days, then moved to a nursing home for rehabilitation, but her health continued to worsen. Her prognosis is not good, but she knows she wants to return to her home as soon as possible, even if it is to live out the remaining days of her life in familiar settings with friends and family nearby.
Most folks don't want to plan for a time in their lives that might see them sick or frail and depending on others. It is never an easy conversation, but it is one that needs to happen. Advance planning will give you the time you need to evaluate the types of care you want, in what settings you wish to receive them and how you will pay for them. While you cannot be certain of all your needs, with advance planning you will have more control over decisions if the time comes.
My great aunt wanted to stay in Florida, and then in her own place in Columbus, as long as possible. If we had waited until she needed services to discuss her options, we might have overlooked options that she didn't know existed or worse, made a hasty choice in a crisis, resulting in her wishes not being met.
Planning for your future care needs is not an individual task. It should be done with the input of many players, while always keeping the person the plan is for, and her preferences, at the center of the discussion.
- Have a frank and honest dialogue with the people you anticipate being involved with your care needs, and discuss everyone's expectations and comfort level.
- Talk with your doctor and ask her what long-term care choices and services are available to help meet your needs, now and in the future.
- If you have a financial advisor, discuss the costs of your current and future long-term care needs with him and ask what long-term care financing options are available to help you pay for your long-term care needs.
- Search for caregiver websites online, many of which will have resources for long-term care planning.
As you talk with your family and others you trust about your personal and health care needs, consider these crucial questions:
- Do you want to stay in your home, move in with a relative or into a facility?
- Who will be your primary caregiver?
- Have you filled out a healthcare power of attorney, in case you are unable to make your own decisions?
- What level of service do you need? Do you need help with everyday activities, such as getting dressed or walking to the bathroom? Nursing care?
- What can you afford and does you insurance offer any coverage?
- What's available close to home?
Seventy percent of people over the age of 65 will require some long-term care services in their lifetimes. Services can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living or in nursing homes. Nearly 80 percent of long-term care is provided in the home, with friends and family members providing the lion's share. Home care and hospice aides and agencies help fill in gaps or provide services family cannot. Aging network services, such as caregiver support, transportation, home delivered meals, adult day services and more, round out the system and truly bring long-term care home. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes can provide short-term or long-term services and care that simply are not available or feasible in the home.
Your area agency on aging can provide a free long-term care consultation to help you consider all your needs and available resources. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community and learn more about the programs and services they offer for older adults and their caregivers. If you are looking for a home care provider for yourself or a loved one, the Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice and the Midwest Care Alliance provide excellent resources.
Read more Boomerang...