Column: Aging on your terms


Commentary by Carol Applegate

Aging on your terms. It’s something we all hope to do. But an unexpected fall, illness or injury can change our mobility and lives quickly.

That’s why it’s important to put long-term care plans in place before you need them. Most of us will need assistance at some point in our lives with things like getting dressed, driving to appointments or making meals. Without proper planning, care often falls on family members and friends. These often-unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 80 percent of all at-home long-term care in America, according to the Administration for Community Living, or ACL.

Where to Start

As you hit middle-age, you should start asking yourself some key questions to help you formulate a long-term care plan:

• What kind of care would I want if I am injured or sick? Do I want to be at home or in a nursing facility? Who will take care of me?

• What types of long-term care (if any) does my current insurance cover?

• What options do I have to pay for the care?

• Should I purchase long-term care insurance? How much would it be?

• What legal documents do I need to get in case I can’t take care of myself?

• Who will I share my long-term care plans with?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, it’s time to act. Doing so now will help you and your family feel prepared in the case of a future crisis.

Aging on your terms requires action

The odds are good that you will need long-term care in the future. Studies show there is a nearly 70 percent chance that someone turning 65 today will need some type of long-term care service in their lifetime. The average length of that care is three years, which could quickly deplete your savings.

Once you’ve made decisions about what kind of care you might want, it’s time to start preparing legally and figuring out how you would pay for care. The best way to do that is to schedule meetings with your attorney and your financial planner. You’ll want to ensure your plans are in writing so that your loved ones can easily implement them if you aren’t able to yourself.

One sure way to age on your terms is to learn more about Life Care Planning. This holistic approach involves a team that works with clients as they age to help them deal with legal, financial, medical and emotional issues involved in growing older. The Life Care team works with the client as health and financial conditions change to evolve their long-term care plans. The Life Care Planning team takes the burden off your family – and you!

The bottom line is that aging on your terms requires advance planning. Contact Applegate & Dillman Elder Law or another qualified attorney today to find out more about creating a long-term care plan. Also, don’t forget to make an appointment with your financial advisor to figure out how to pay for the eventual implementation of your plan.