Planning is something that only other people do, right? We at Accredited Home Care will certainly agree that this can be a common attitude and we would even say that there are some parts of life where it can actually be fun to be a little spontaneous now and then. But we will definitely disagree with the notion that planning ahead for health changes is overrated and should be avoided.
In fact, our team of caregivers in the Mission Valley area also know that long-term care planning is one of those areas that people don’t want to think about when they’re younger and in good health. But as all of us have seen, sometimes people don’t think about long-term care options until a health crisis hits, and by then some options for care may be more limited than if planning had begun much earlier.
In some cases, family members must make quick decisions if a loved one is unable to do so. Perhaps someone has had a stroke or another health condition where they’re unable to have their wishes known easily. Loved ones also may not necessarily make the same choice as you, such as selecting an assisted living facility when you might have preferred to try and stay home if possible.
Again, proper planning can eliminate many last-second questions or rushed decisions, including making sure information about your wishes can be found by any family members in case you’re unavailable.
Looking, planning ahead
Getting organized and planning for long-term care and other possible needs in the future can and should be done anytime, but fall is a great time to take a closer look.
October was officially Long-Term Care Planning Month, and even though the month is coming to a close, no one will mind if the momentum continues into November and beyond. The month’s focus was to encourage people to educate themselves about long-term care options, which can hopefully encourage people to plan ahead rather than ‘getting around to it’ later.
For instance, waiting for Medicare or Medicaid to kick in may not give you all the services you hope you’ll receive. Medicare will pay for medical care, like nurses or doctors, but won’t pay for Activities of Daily Living. Medicaid also will only pay for long-term care after someone’s assets are used up, and at that point, approved options for suggested facilities or in-home care are limited.
Instead, people can begin paying for long-term care much earlier and in smaller amounts that add up over time. This will make it easier to be able to afford more services when needed, and also provide more choices when it’s time to start looking.
Beginning your research while healthy has some advantages – providers from your state working with the National Care Planning Council will more likely want to discuss the process, costs and eligibility for care with you when everyone has adequate time to make decisions and explore options, rather than having these conversations when your health has worsened.
You also might be in better health now and more likely to quality for more insurance programs for lower rates, rather than paying higher premiums with less time and poorer health in the future.
Prepare your paperwork
Related to researching long-term care options is how to keep track of all the past and present paperwork related to your health. Along with having basics like wills/estate info and bank account numbers handy, you should also make it easy for trusted people to have secure access to your personal, health and financial data.
This push for organization goes along with another opportunity to educate and inform this fall: October is also considered Organize Your Medical Information Month. People are encouraged to celebrate by getting their data together – tidiness can benefit everyone
This can include:
- Medical history. If you’ve had surgery, pre-existing conditions, even allergies, this data will be key to have on hand.
- List of providers. Because of privacy laws, health care providers may not share if someone is a patient or not. But if you have information about what office he or she works at, that will be helpful.
- Power of attorney forms. If you’re not able to make medical, financial or legal decisions due to a health problem that may be affecting your ability to think clearly, you can designate someone to make decisions on your behalf. Choosing this person ahead of time can eliminate any questions as to the right or wrong person to talk to doctors, lawyers or financial representatives.
- Insurance information. This will let people know about the status of your policies.
- Lists of emergency contacts. Do you have a certain account executive you like to work with at the bank, the insurance company, the law firm or the financial services company.
- Portfolio information. These funds may not need to be accessed until your death, but questions could come up when a facility or home health care agency seeks info about someone’s net worth, including any investments and retirement plans.
Much as it’s easy to want to put off planning or also not worry about all your paperwork, taking steps to arrange both of these can come in handy. The staff at Accredited Home Care in the Mission Valley will be happy to encourage these tasks and point people in the proper direction.