Senior Care Plan – By Mary Ann Freedman
Conversations between Older Adults and Their Adult Children Are Needed
Today many Canadians are preparing to live a long life. Average life expectancy has grown from 68 in 1950 to 81 today. Canadian smokers have steadily declined. Many people are working longer. Others are finding ways to look younger.
But how many people you know are preparing for how they live the last 10 to 15 years of their lives? Not enough.
The facts don’t lie. Research shows that if you reach 85, you have a 50/50 chance of having dementia. And that means you probably won’t be able to handle your finances or pay bills; you may not remember whether you’ve had lunch or taken your medication; and your affable manner may be replaced with emotional outbursts.
According to a new survey by Home Instead Inc., while 73 percent of seniors have a written will, only 13 percent have actually made arrangements for long term care. (senior care plan)
“When planning for their later years, many people go straight to making funeral arrangements and financial plans rather than taking time to prepare for care that might be necessary,” says Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care. “Unfortunately, many people do not consider that as we age, we need extra care. While most seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too.”
The survey also revealed that that aging parents are far more comfortable discussing their plans for their final years (89 percent) than adult children are discussing their parent’s plans (68 percent).
So how do families plan for the demands of a longer life?
Senior Care Plan
- Accept that ‘Older Adult’ is a new phase with new realities and needs much like the ‘teenage’ years, mid-life and empty nester years.
- Be astute and recognize changes in attitude and abilities that you observe in an older adult for what they are – an opportunity to do things differently, rather than as the potential loss of freedom and independence.
- Decide where you want to live and what you can afford. Are you a ‘people person’ and want to live in a community or retirement residence with other people? Or do you want to live in your own home with some extra help? According to CARP, 93% of seniors in Canada live at home and want to stay there as long as possible. However, Home Instead found that only 74 % of seniors have shared their wishes with their adult children.
- Select a close friend or family member to be the substitute decision maker if you’re unable to communicate or make informed decisions. And different people can be selected because of their strengths in different areas. For example one person may handle the financial affairs and pay bills, while another makes health-related decisions.
- Prepare the documents – Ensure that your will, Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POA), life insurance, inheritance are up to date.
- Share your plan with a close friend or family member who can step in as a substitute decision maker when you’re unable to do so. And give them the information they need. Consider having a family meeting where you can share your documents and contact information for your closest advisors (legal, financial, doctor) with adult children.
- Explore ways of covering the cost of increased care and other needs as you age in place. What resources are available from the government? Explore extended health, long term care and other insurance to help cover the cost of special drugs, home care, physio, assistive devices to name a few.
- All good plans require good research. If you don’t know what your options are, engage your family and friends to help. The more they know, the better able they will be able to implement your plan.
- Engage in continuous learning. Explore activities that will help you stay active both physically and mentally. You may need to replace your weekly tennis or golf game with bridge or a walking club.
Mary Ann Freedman works with Home Instead Senior Care and has over 20 years experience working with organizations who serve 50+ adults.
For more information about a senior care plan, call Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096 or use the contact form.