Kathy shared her memories about the day she realized that she needed to start thinking about her future. Her aging future. It seemed like she had just graduated and was planning for that future. Job, marriage and children. Wow. Where had all that time gone? Through career changes, when she was signing up for benefits, she always had the opportunity to sign up for LTC insurance. She never selected that option, even though it was nearly free at her young age because she was “young, healthy, and going to live forever.”
Fast forward, she was at her primary doctor appointment, now in her 60’s. She had just gone through her routine check-up, where she was warned about her high blood pressure, her high A1C results, and borderline cholesterol concerns. She wondered, where did that all come from? She was, middle aged, with managed health issues and no plans for the future. Oh, and it was in the tail end of the Pandemic, which increased her risk factors for the effects of COVID-19.
She was sent home with her after-visit results, a few referrals, and follow-ups prepared by the primary care physician. On the way out, she looked at the wall file that held specific health pamphlets and resources offered at the medical facility. She saw a work sheet for planning for her aging future.
She picked up the worksheet, and a couple of other pamphlets related to diabetes to review when she got home. When she eventually got around to it, she was taken back by the hard questions that were posed, and even more reflective on how to answer them. She didn’t have answers. She had not thought about a plan or “her wishes” for that future, ever.
In the past 10 years, she has gone through the loss of her mother 74, her husband, 65 and her brother, 48. Starkly, they were all health-related deaths, at varied ages, with some plans made, but not completely executed until they were in the midst of their health crisis. She knew that her parents had a will and wanted to stay at home, which she was able to accommodate with care manager help in finding some good in home care providers.
This was all very emotional for her, reflecting on the past and stirring up feelings about the future. She does not have LTC insurance through her work place. She does have a pension and a 401K but the 401K is losing funds during the current recession. She does have health insurance and will have Medicare, which may very well leave her needing Medicaid at some point. She will also receive social security for income.
If she is not able to remain at home, with no family to rely on, she needs to understand what her options are for the future and she reached out to find out where to start.
Your journey to this point may be very similar or it may be very different. Regardless, it is in your best interest to begin to educate yourself, know what you want, and plan accordingly if at all possible. You may have to settle with a certain level of care or make compromises along the way.
A couple of things that you will need to have insight on or have access too, while you begin the process for your parents or yourself:
- Start where you are, do you have current needs that require attention such as physical or memory issues?
- What are your wishes for staying in your own home or living in a facility?
- If married, will you start out together, with options for separate care, which is critical for financial planning.
- Know your current private insurance coverage.
- Do you have Medicaid to supplement your current Medicare coverage?
- Are you able to cover living and medical costs privately?
- Will you want a progressive care package – independent living to skilled nursing?
- Are you familiar with palliative care and hospice care?
- Know your financial status or have access to your financial planner.
- Establish a POA (Power of attorney) for estate and financial decisions.
- Establish a POA (Power of authority) for medical decisions in case you are not able to speak for yourself.
- Complete a POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) with your physician – this will be needed for emergency care and end of life directives.
This is quite a list to tackle and may not be all that needs to be considered. Depending on where you are when you begin this process, it could be less, with some homework to do. There are resources available to walk you through this and help you to accomplish your goals. Giving even a few items on this list some thought, will give you a head start for your first conversation with a Care Manager. Timing is everything in regard to planning for your parents, and will be a gift for both of you.
Care Managers are experts who examine individual situations to get you on the right path at any point that you are seeking assistance. They have a vast network and once they have completed their interview with you, they can step you through how to obtain what is needed to get you started with professional and community resources right through to your final plans. They are also available as your care needs change.
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 585-787-0009 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help.