One of things people value the most is their independence, and many don't like to think about the possibility of that independence being up for debate. But, in reality, needing some help as we get older is actually pretty common.
In the year 2000, there were nearly 10 million people in the U.S. who required long term care services. More than a third of these people needed that care before they turned 65, and it's predicted that nearly 70 percent of those currently turning 65 will require this type of care at some point.
Still even with statistics stacked against them, many people stay in denial about the possibility of needing help until they are hit with a debilitating situation, such as a stroke or a fall or even a disease that forces them to need assistance.
All too often, by the time this happens, the person's ability to be an active participant in choosing their caregiver and place to live has seriously been diminished. They find themselves on the sidelines while relatives scramble to find a "nice place" that will offer necessary services as economically as possible.
These individuals end up facing the situation they feared: losing control of their own lives. One of the best ways to avoid losing that control is to plan ahead.
Looking at the Whole Picture in Estate Planning & Elder Law
Some people look at estate planning as something only wealthy people pursue. But estate plans can cover different things. An estate plan can include a stand-alone will, or involve various trust accounts or living will. It can lay out detailed information on how you want your end of life handled, including medical directives. You can plan for who will stand in to make medical choices as well as financial ones if you can't always make these decisions yourself.
If you plan ahead, you can discuss some of your choices with these people while you are still fully capable of doing so. You can also research long term care facilities or home health care options. You can purchase long term care insurance in order to help with costs so you can remain as comfortable as possible, even when life becomes challenging.
Talking to the Right People
Chances are friends and family won't like to think of you losing your independence any more than you do. Still, it is important to discuss possible scenarios so that they will be able to be supportive if or when you need them to.
For example talking to adult children about what they role might have will make the transition easier on everyone involved because everyone knows what to expect. In addition to talking to those close to you, getting help from an elder law attorney can be highly valuable as well. A qualified attorney can make sure that all of your bases are covered so that you retain control over your own life.