Aging experts have a lot of theories why many people just don’t like to think about long-term care: fear, denial, costs or simply confusion can top the list. At Above and Beyond Home Health Care, we understand that these types of discussions can be difficult for everyone involved, and we’re always happy to help make things a little easier.
Since 2004, we’ve worked with thousands of patients and their families in the Mount Vernon area and beyond. We’ve met people who have been prepared for whatever financial circumstances and health changes came their way, and we’ve seen people completely caught off guard by unexpected health events that can move someone from feeling fine to requiring hospice care in a short amount of time.
Being aware of long-term planning options is a big step in not being overwhelmed by all the changes and decisions at these difficult times in someone’s life.
Planning ahead can even have financial benefits — many retirement planners and insurance providers offer a variety of long-term care options so people can begin looking ahead at how to afford this possibility long before it’s needed. The longer time that money is invested means more can accrue, which can provide more options and a greater degree of financial security, no matter the costs or needs.
A solid plan also might be able to help someone specify that they prefer home health care or hospice care over a hospital or nursing home if it’s available, rather than family members simply trying to choose whatever is the fastest or easiest option for them at the time.
Learning more about and possibly deciding on long-term care options can be done anytime but October can be a perfect time to start.
The month is considered Long Term Care Planning Month, which encourages people to take extra effort to create a plan for their future and learn more about options for their area and health conditions.
For instance, when seeking hospice services, some communities offer the services of skilled nurses and other providers who can visit the patient’s home. Others have their own facilities or contract with hospitals or other facilities.
There are plenty of private, public and non-profit options and resources for people, including the National Care Planning Council, an information source designed to connect long-term providers and possible patients, and assist people in planning ahead for care as much as possible.
Available information and assistance can include everything from general medical information to funeral and estate planning. Information can be found about taxes, transportation and general quality of care and plenty of other questions or situations that may come up.
The amount of choices and possible circumstances related to long-term care options can certainly be overwhelming, especially for someone who ‘doesn’t really like thinking about those things’ or considers themselves in fine health.
But, from the council’s perspective, it’s significantly better that people have clear and easily accessible information about a wide variety of care-related topics so they can read and learn at their leisure rather than having to make rushed, uninformed decisions during a time of crisis. Even worse would be other family members having to make these decisions hastily if a person isn’t able to mentally or physically.
For instance, some dementias may affect one’s ability to make a choice, as can something physically or mentally disabling like a stroke.
Trying to learn more about care options when it’s time switch to hospice care may limit someone’s options in terms of availability of services and affordability. That’s why health and hospice experts advise learning as much as you can prior to needing them.
Part of successful long-term care planning is to make sure all of your details and arrangements are clearly stated and available, just in case you aren’t available to speak for yourself.
While your insurance agent or financial planner may have copies, family members may not know how to track him or her down in the event of a crisis.
That’s why it’s recommended that these documents and related paperwork should stay in one part of your office or file cabinet.
Good thing October is “Organize Your Medical Information Month,” an opportunity for Mount Vernon residents to gather related information and keep it together. It could be insurance statements, bills, referrals and prescription information. It could be benefit information from the government or an employer. It could be end-of-life directives, insurance policies, or requests for your funeral and disposal of your estate/personal property. Even passwords required to access bank accounts and funds can benefit family members who may need to access this information.
Detailed medical information can also be helpful if a new doctor or home health specialist wants to learn more about you.
An important part of this is giving someone power of attorney over your affairs if you’re unable to represent or make decisions yourself. This should be someone trusted, such as a spouse or child.
Getting all of this information can be helpful, no matter the situation, whether you are simply planning ahead or looking taking steps for long-term coverage. Though it’s easy to fall into the trap of “not going to happen to me,” the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care suggests “at least be ready just in case.”