November 1, 2011
Long-term care is an issue most people avoid like the plague. No one likes to think about getting old, losing their independence or having to spend any length of time in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
Because of these fears, many people tune the issue of long-term care planning out all together. They plug their ears to the warnings of their financial advisers, doctors and even close family and friends that the time to plan for the inevitable is now.
I believe that’s why a national observance was dedicated to this very topic: far too many people are in denial, and therefore unprepared, for the transitions that quickly happen in the later stages of life.
We all know that sickness, mobility issues, disability or even incapacity can strike without warning. Even degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s can progress so rapidly that your family’s hands could be tied regarding your care.
For example, you may not want to go into a nursing home, but have you provided your family with any legal and financial tools that give them any other choice?
Have you investigated exactly what type of coverage Medicare or Medicaid provides, and whether you will even be eligible for such coverage should an immediate need for long-term care present itself (99% of people are shocked by these findings).
Most importantly, have you put the right legal documents in place that allows someone to quickly step in and handle your finances and medical needs in an emergency, or will your loved ones be blocked by strict HIPAA laws, ultimately leaving you in the lurch?
These are all important issues that must be addressed sooner, rather than later, if you want some control and flexibility during the final years of life.
With that said, I encourage you to take some time this week and weigh your options about things such as long-term care insurance, financial planning and supplemental government aid. Talk to your attorney about documenting your choice of health care agent, power of attorney and additional steps you can take to protect your assets should the need for long-term care ever arise.
Just start by getting the facts. Then once you are armed with the right information, take proactive steps to make a plan. The independence and quality of life you enjoy in the golden years depends on it.