While many people plan for retirement, too few consider how they will continue living at home as they age, and health-related concerns compromise their independence. That’s where a research project developed by the chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine may help. The study isn’t about end-of-life planning; it focuses on the period before the end, when health problems become more common and seniors suddenly face having to rely on others for help or struggle to handle it themselves. The goal is to assist older adults to think about their future in a helpful and non-threatening way. That’s important because studies show many people avoid planning for a health crisis. No one wants to imagine themselves sick or incapacitated, but before there is a major health crisis there are other issues that seniors need to address that can affect their well-being.
For instance, let’s say you must go into the hospital. Have you considered who will take care of your pets, mow your lawn, shovel snow, collect your mail and check on bills to be paid? What about when you get home? Who will cook, clean and run errands? In a prior post, I went through specific questions you should ask yourself in figuring out a plan to get help when you can’t care for yourself.
Fortunately, these concerns are getting more attention. Few people have an endless supply of family and friends who can easily step in. As a result, many organizations are providing seniors with help in making plans. The article on the research project mentions some great resources where you can get advice.
The important thing is not to wait. According to another research report published last year, seniors say they don’t plan for aging for many reasons, including these: “I don’t know what to do, I’m uncomfortable asking for help, I’m not at immediate risk of something bad happening, my children will take care of whatever I need, and I’m worried I won’t have enough money.” However, not planning makes matters worse for seniors and their families.
Most seniors say they want to be in control of their lives. Unfortunately, when no plans are made, other people will make decisions for you and you may not be happy with those choices. Even your children may have very different ideas than you about what they can handle and what they think you would want if you couldn’t make your own decisions.
I advocate for being a PRO CHOICE SENIOR, which means saying YES to –
- Aging with an informed Attitude
- Creating an Aging support system
- Having ‘difficult conversations’ when necessary!
A PRO CHOICE SENIOR creates his/her own aging playbook where they make as many decisions as possible about their future.
If you are a baby boomer or older, turn to the resources mentioned in this post, but also speak to an attorney to ensure your wishes will be followed. It’s important to prepare yourself and loved ones in the event you need care.
For help planning for your future care, contact me for a consultation.