Many of us spend our lives making plans. We plan for our weekend camping trip, our summer vacation, our savings goals and our workout routine. Unfortunately, the older we get, the less we plan for the inevitable. The elder years of life can be some of the most enjoyable, when they are planned for. Life does not end at retirement but very few people plan for this part of their life.
Children and parents should talk together about a plan for long term care in the elderly years. Generally, the parents should be the instigators of the conversation allowing their children to join in the discussion so that the expectations are clearly laid out. When the time comes, the parents may not be physically or mentally able to execute their wishes and so it is important to lay out a plan beforehand.
Who to Include in a Long Term Plan
Family members are the most common caregivers for the elderly. Children or other family members provide care and sometimes even housing out of love without being paid or compensated. While some elderly parents may be placed in a facility, most of them spend a majority of their time in the home of their children or family members.
According to the National Long-Term Care Survey, 80% of informal caregivers are a spouse, a daughter or daughter-in-law, or a son or son-in-law. The other 20% of care may be provided by friends, volunteers, siblings, grandchildren or nieces and nephews.
This causes a great financial impact on those caregivers and so it is important to include these individuals in the long term planning process. These potential caregivers should know and understand what your wishes are, what your financial situation is, and if you have a long term care insurance policy they can rely on.
What to Include in a Long Term Care Plan
A plan for long term care should include the desires of those who are elderly and what they would prefer when it comes to both informal and formal care. Perhaps they desire to stay in their home and on their own; perhaps they would prefer to live with family or friends. Some enjoy the company of others their own age and enjoy the ease and peace of a nice retirement community or formal facility.
These wishes should be discussed and understood. There should also be a care advocate or power-of-attorney established for times when the elderly cannot speak for themselves, or cannot make sound medical decisions. This should be one individual, who is ultimately responsible for the care decisions.
Any long term plan is only complete after a formal meeting and a written care agreement that is understood, agreed upon, and retained by everyone involved.