Most of us spend a large part of our lives planning. We might be planning for the next five minutes or the next 10 years…but we are perpetually preparing for the future.
Sometimes our plans are routine and mundane while at other times grandiose and exciting. In the short term we’re taking the dog to the vet while our long term plans might include college gifts for grandchildren and reaping retirement investments.
While we spend a lot of our adult lives looking towards the future many of us tend to resist long term planning when we reach a certain stage. The implications of planning for this next stage are scary and depressing for most of us, despite the fact that most Americans are living longer, healthier, more active and engaged lives than ever imaginable.
While there are scores of reasons for postponing this planning, one thing all geriatric professionals seem to agree upon is the importance of being proactive. And as facts bear out, as hard as it may be to face the planning process, the alternative of waiting until a crisis occurs isn’t a good one.
As Charles Pyke the Estate Planning Attorney puts it, unlike in the movies “most people don’t pass away peacefully in their sleep”.
Despite the fact that planning seems overwhelming and emotional, procrastinating and postponing it won’t make it any less necessary in the future. In fact, the consequences of waiting are more burdensome than we can understand until we are knee-deep in crisis.
Without a plan we don’t have the time to learn about all of our options, which limits them by default. We’re forced into making impulse arrangements, which are rarely the best decisions and often cause more problems than they solve. Additional stress can come from the possible need to sell a home, and extra challenges can arise if our family doesn’t live locally. Any of these factors can cause an incredibly stressful and complex situation that can be simplified by even a small amount of advanced planning.
Accepting the importance of planning for long term care is the first step. The second step is starting the process. But this is confusing in-and-of-itself since we can’t predict what will happen tomorrow.
How do we begin when we can’t know what kind of situation we will be looking at or what our needs might be?All we can do is start the processes of learning what options exist. And here’s the good news. There are more choices than ever before and the senior living industry continues to evolve, thrive, distinguish itself through the services it provides, and cater to the emerging needs of an emerging population of men and women who are demanding excellence in living options.
Nursing or rest homes are no longer the only option for those who can’t remain alone at home. There are in-home care assistance companies, adult day programming centers, and an array of supportive living communities such as; independent living, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities. Most nursing homes are more welcoming and are held to ever increasing standards. Supportive living communities are becoming more like standing cruise ships regarding the amenities and activities they offer and they’re also able to accommodate increasingly higher levels of care.
Overwhelmed yet? Unfortunately this is just the beginning. We also have to look at the options within the options. Companies that come into our homes can either offer non-medical (companion services) or skilled nursing care. Medicare and other subsidized programs sometimes cover these services. Private expenses vary based upon many factors including licensing, insurance and accreditation of each company and other variables like scheduling requirements, location, and services provided.
Outlining the options within supportive living communities is even more complex and can literally be like comparing apples and oranges. While they are both fruits, their characteristics are vastly different. They do not look, taste, feel or smell the same. Their costs and nutritional benefits differ as well as their appeal to our palettes. If independent living is the apple and assisted living is the orange, we also need to understand that there are many different kinds of apples and many different kinds of oranges. These differences can be drastic but are often times subtle. The same is true with senior living options; we just need to explore and experience a variety of choices to learn what will suit our preferences.
By choosing to be proactive in planning the most important next part of our lives, we not only take control of our future, but we make the most of it. While it’s natural to be wary and skeptical of this next phase, we know we can determine our own future and gift ourselves and our children comfort, peace-of-mind and possibility. We can make new friends, find new hobbies, visit new places, and continue to find joy in the things we have always loved. If we empower ourselves to continue planning, life can still hold a lot in store for us.
(Edited from Atlanta Elder Law Issues & Powers Of Attorney. May 18,2011 / By: Charles B. Pyke Jr., Estate Planning Attorney Category: Incapacity Planning http://cpyke.com/blog/)
To learn more about senior living options, please contact Michelle Woodbrey or Alyson Powers at (508) 564-0192 or firstname.lastname@example.org