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In Case You Get Hit by a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You're Not Around Later

Task: Making Eldercare Decisions (Before You Need To)

This article on personal planning is provided by Everplans — The web's leading resource for planning and organizing your life. Create, store and share important documents that your loved ones might need. Find out more about Everplans »

eldercare decisions puzzle

Eldercare can be a difficult topic to think about because you have to guess what future you might need.

For example, you could be having trouble getting around and taking care of regular daily activities (cooking, cleaning, driving), or become ill. This is why we want you to get to know your options, think about what you’d want, and then work toward achieving that goal. Here are some top-line things to consider:

  • Health: Will you need doctors and nurses on staff to help with any medical issues? Even if you’re not ill, perhaps you want easy access to medical professionals, just in case.
  • Finances: Do you have the means to live where you want, for as long as you’ll need? Have you ever looked into getting Long-Term Care Insurance?
  • Location of Family Members: Do you want to be near family and friends, or do you want a change of scenery?
  • Degree of Independence: Do you like doing things on your own, or you ok with someone else pitching in and helping out with your daily routine?

We know it’s hard to predict all of these things in advance. No one likes to picture themselves as anything other than able-bodied and healthy. But knowing what to expect and preparing yourself and your loved ones for different possibilities, is an achievement in itself.

To help you understand the reality, there are three main types of eldercare housing to consider. 

In-Home Care

If you want to continue to live at home (and who doesn’t) but may need some help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and hygiene. This type of care may require some modifications to your home to reduce accidents and make caregiving easier -- like installing ramps for a wheelchair, installing a stair lift, and adding railings in the bathrooms and shower. The cost can vary greatly depending on your current living situation, the level of modifications needed, and if you have to hire a home health aide, versus having a support network of friends and family pitching in for free. While this is probably the preferred option for many, it also has the most variables, especially if your health worsens.

Assisted Living

If you can manage your own care, but need occasional help with daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning, and other routines that might become difficult to do on your own. While this type of care moves you out of your home, you can still have a good degree of independence -- like living in a small apartment -- and get the added benefit of having doctors and nurses on staff at all times, as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, and scheduled activities. These facilities generally require a downpayment and monthly fees that range from $1,000-$5,000, but like with everything, the costs vary based on location and other factors like room size and amenities offered. Also, Medicare won’t cover the cost, though some facilities accept Medicaid, as well as Long-Term Care Insurance, and HMO/managed care plans, but the bulk of it will have to be paid out of pocket.

Nursing Home

This is for those who need a high level of medical care -- there are doctors or nurses on the premises at all times -- in addition to help with daily activities. While the first two options might be your choice, this might become a necessity when those can’t provide the level of care you need. They’re also the most expensive, averaging around $6,000 per month. To pay for it Medicare might short-term stays for usually about 100 days, Medicaid might cover the costs but you have to qualify and not all homes accept it, and if you planned ahead and bought Long-Term Care Insurance, it should cover some (or all) of the costs, depending on the rules of your policy. If you don’t have those means of support you’ll need a large savings account or generous family member willing to foot the bill.

It’s understandable to want to ignore the fact that all humans eventually need some type of care and it might not be an easy conversation to have with your family, especially if every time you try to talk about it, it ends with a vague “we’ll figure it out when the time comes.” You may think one of your kids will take you in and set up a cozy room, but what if their situation changes and that’s no longer an option?

The Task

The key to this task is to know your options in advance, focus on practicality instead of emotion, and speak with professionals to help you get a financial plan in place. There's an Aging section in the Everplan that helps you communicate what you want, and use that to figure out a plan. We all want to know we’ll be safe and secure in our golden years and preparing today can help you stop worrying about tomorrow.

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