No matter how old we get, most of us still feel young inside. It’s hard to imagine that, if we live long enough, some of our body parts, including our brains, will start to wear out and we will need help doing at least some of the daily tasks that now seem easy for us.
Research shows that one out of two North Dakotans will need long-term care services sometime during their lives. North Dakota ranks 7th in the nation for states that have the highest proportion of individuals age 85 and older, with 14.2% of the population made up of individuals 65 and older. If you have a spouse, the overall risk that one of you will need long-term care services during your lifetime is 65%. It’s only smart to make decisions for yourself and your loved ones as to what you will do when more care is needed than a family can give.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
Many difficult decisions will have to be made quickly under duress if you or a loved one needs long-term care without prior notice or planning. Many plans, decisions and possible options can be worked out in advance, providing a plan of action when your situation changes and helping you and everyone in your family to feel more secure before needs arise.
A few things to consider are: Do you have family members who can take care of you? Have you completed legal advance directives and appointed a health-care surrogate to make decisions for you in the event you can no longer care for yourself? Are you taking care of your health and considering what you can do to reduce future health-care costs? Do you have a financial plan in place? What changes will you need to make if you want to stay in your current home?
An excellent resource that covers all aspects of planning for long-term care is available online from the AARP: https://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/cs/health/ltc_resource_guide.pdf. It covers topics such as your home and community resources, your health, your finances and your wishes. It includes preparation steps you can follow and a long-term care services worksheet to record your progress. We encourage you to read the guide and start planning now! In today’s blog we will focus on making sure your wishes or those of your loved ones are known and can be legally carried out, the status of your family finances and your ability to self-pay, and knowing the resources that are available for in-home care.
Have you thought about your wishes for where you will live and who will take care of you when you can no longer do everything for yourself? Have you discussed your wishes with your spouse and other family members? Do you know what their wishes are should you need to give or provide care for them? If you are unable to tell your family yourself, do you have instructions for your loved ones so they don’t have to guess what you would want to happen? It is imperative that you have the following documents and that your family members and healthcare providers know where they are:
- A living will instructs medical professionals, your family and other caregivers which medical treatments you want to receive or refuse, and under what conditions. It takes effect when you meet specific medical criteria and cannot make decisions on your own.
- A healthcare power of attorney appoints the person of your choice to make healthcare decisions for you anytime you are unable to do so. It can be a family member or a trusted friend. The form also may be called a healthcare proxy, appointment of a healthcare agent, or a durable power of attorney for healthcare.
- A financial power of attorney document names the person you want to be responsible for handling your financial matters should you be unable to do so. Choose someone you trust completely and who is good at managing money. I was managing my father’s financial affairs for 10 years before he died, because it became too difficult for him to do it without making mistakes.
Paying for Care
It is usually not enough to count on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA or other government programs to pay for long-term care. Other resources, in addition to long-term-care insurance, could include: retirement income, savings and investments; continuing care retirement communities; some life insurance policies; or a reverse mortgage.
The AARP has a Retirement Calculator to help you determine how much income your retirement savings might provide. A financial professional, such as a financial planner, an investment adviser, and insurance agent or an estate planning attorney, could also offer valuable assistance, depending on your circumstances.
Resources for Long-Term-Care Planning
The AARP Guide includes 4 pages of resources for long-term care broken down into categories, beginning on page 42. The blogs we’ve referred to also contain links to other resources. For more information on the cost of in-home care services in North Dakota, visit http://www.dibbern.com/home-health-care-costs/cost-for-north-dakota-home-health-care.htm.
Dakota Home Care can provide home and respite care in Bismarck, ND and the nearby areas care. Call us at 701-663-5373 for a free consultation or contact us here.
A wealth of additional resources can be found by searching on “Long-Term Care Planning.”