Pre-Planning Your Senior Care Needs: A New Approach
It seems in every aspect of our lives there are directives to plan ahead to ensure a solid strategy for success. Saving for college, vacation planning, buying emergency preparedness kits and even pre-need funeral policies are all designed to make sure we have all our ‘ducks in a row’ for future events. However, when it comes to senior care planning it seems this becomes a crisis management situation rather than a measured approach for senior care solutions.
As we all age, our care needs begin to reveal themselves. Whether it is over a longer period of time or the result of a finite event like a fall or an acute illness, the ‘hurry up’ approach leaves everyone confused, indecisive and having a sense of being completely overwhelmed.
So the question begs, “How can we predict our senior care needs before we need them?” Of course the answer is no one can accurately see the future, but becoming aware of your options and actually taking action before the crisis period strikes will go a long way to taking control of an often chaotic period where many decisions must be made in a relatively short amount of time.
Here are some thoughts on being proactive in your approach to preparing for senior care and not waiting until the need is right upon you:
Don’t Be the Lone Ranger
Involve an experienced senior care consultant (such as a Certified Senior Advisor, CSA® www.csa.us) to be your guide throughout this process. Allow them to do the heavy lifting by bringing you information, resources, and options. Let them schedule tours of facilities and interviews with home care companies around your schedule. They are the experts; it’s what they do. Serious planning requires a serious and professional approach for you and your family.
Prepare for Multiple Scenarios
As you are making plans for future senior care needs, many different scenarios should be considered. Even simple questions like, “Do I want a caregiver in my home?” and “What if I can’t dress or feed myself?” need to be discussed. There is a wide spectrum of senior care options including adult care facilities, in-home care, independent living, personal care homes, assisted living, memory care, home health, nursing home care and hospice. Having a list of vetted companies in each area based on your own visits and interviews will give you solid choices when the time comes. As important, is a list of options that are off the table – you may not be in a position to speak for yourself. Your family or decision makers will appreciate knowing what you want as well as what you don’t want.
Involve All Interested Parties and Designate a Coordinator
This is one of the toughest areas when making senior care decisions. Everyone involved brings their own thoughts, feelings, experiences, and relationships into the process. This can be problematic when siblings and spouses all have opposing views on what needs to happen. Compound that 100 times when this occurs during a crisis situation. By making one’s own decisions in advance, the person receiving the care has time to document and communicate their decisions to all interested parties. Don’t rely on the recommendations of hospital personnel for your healthcare choices, let your designated coordinator speak for you. Keep control of your circumstances – you know what is best for you.
Organize and Share Documentation
An important aspect of communication is having access to critical information. Trying to find long-term care insurance policies, life insurance policies, banking information, legal documents such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney can be extremely difficult if not impossible in some cases. Rarely are these documents stored in an easily accessible location where family members can access them when the time arises. Building a master document binder is a good way to consolidate all your important papers in one place. Another option is using a service like DocuBank to ensure that your documents are preserved and easily accessible. DocuBank (www.docubank.com) gives you the ability to share your important documents with the appropriate people when they need them. For example, you can have and grant immediate access to your healthcare directives and emergency medical information anywhere/anytime 24 hours a day. For a nominal fee, DocuBank keeps scanned copies of all your important documents securely stored allowing you to make them available to only those you choose by phone or computer. Once this process has been completed the guess work of locating all relevant documents is resolved.
As Alan Lakein, a well-known author on personal time management is quoted as saying, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Whether you plan this on your own or by acquiring the services of an experienced senior care advisor, by preparing for multiple care scenarios, involving family and loved ones, designating a coordinator and having your documents organized and accessible, you are empowering yourself to manage your future senior care solutions today.
John Largent is the Founder and CEO of Senior Care Family Advisors in San Antonio, Texas. John has served the senior care population for almost 30 years. His dedication to advocating for the elderly is supported by his active involvement in the healthcare and senior care industry throughout South and Central Texas. Contact him directly at john@seniorcareSA.com