Create a Care Plan Before You Need It

So many people, middle-aged and senior, don’t understand that having a care plan in place before you need it can save a lot of time, money, and heartache. If you don’t have the conversation with your aging parents or members of your care team now, you will cause yourself and your aging parents undue stress and financial hardship when the need for a care plan arises.

A care plan is a documented set of instructions of how you want to be taken care of as you age and as you transition from independent home life to possibly an assisted living facility, through to the handling of your funeral arrangements. Of course, this applies to anyone in your family as well. If you are the adult child that is or will be responsible for the care of your aging parents, the care plan will make the needs and wants of your parents clear and easy to follow.

Where do you begin?

Here are some initial questions to help you get focused so you can create your own care plan or your aging parents’ care plan:

Are there any activities or hobbies you would like to pursue or continue?

Is socializing with friends and family important to you?

Would you like to travel?

Do you want to remain at home as long as possible? If so, would you hire in-home care at some point?

Would you want someone in the family to be your full-time caregiver?

How do you feel about moving to Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?

What are your values and beliefs regarding your quality of life and longevity?

Do you have a living will, advance directive or Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

In case someone needs to make medical decisions on your behalf, who would you feel most comfortable appointing? What about financial decisions?

Have you designated someone as a medical and/or financial Power of Attorney?

What are your wishes for final arrangements once you are gone?

Having answered those questions, it’s now time to look at who will be on the care team. If you are forming a care team for your aging parent it is vital that you have their input and support for each member selected. These are the people they will be interacting with, and more importantly, who they will be trusting to take care of their homes, their belongings, their medical care, their financial accounts, and more.

Members of the care team may include:

• Family

• Friends and neighbors

• Home care and home health care professionals

• Adult day care facility

• Geriatric care manager

• Elder law attorney

• Social worker

• Physicians (primary care physician and specialists)

• Financial planners

Taking the time now to get the people and paperwork in place ensures that you, and your aging parents, are prepared for the day when the care team is called into action.