Steps to Plan for Long Term Care
New York City has earned a reputation as a great location to age in place (remaining in your long-time home), however, the wealth of support and resources available to New York City seniors does not eliminate the need for good long term care planning.
In this week’s blog, we will look at the “Long Term Care Mindset,” a way of considering your surroundings, health and possible future needs in order to develop a strong plan that will see you through your sunset years. Note that while Long Term Care typically refers to continuous in-home assistance to ensure you can accomplish daily tasks of living, we are broadening this definition to include the critical planning stages that must take place before you begin to receive in-home care.
Planning Around Your Home
Chances are that you have spent many years living in the same home or apartment, and while it may fit you like a glove now, it is critical that you consider how your changing abilities might impact life a few years from now. Here are some important questions to ask:
- Do I have elevator access?
- Can deliveries be brought to my apartment? Does my buzzer/intercom work?
- What is the apartment like during a heat wave, blizzard or other extreme weather? Are repairs or better temperature control needed?
- Is there room to easily move around the apartment, or is it cluttered with items that could pose a fall hazard or impact the movement of a wheelchair or walker?
- Do I know my neighbors? If there is an emergency, can I contact any of them for assistance? Are there family members nearby who can help me on a long-term basis?
If any of these questions give you pause for thought, now is the best time to address these concerns, when you have the time, energy and are not also managing a serious medical condition.
Planning in Your Neighborhood
Most New Yorkers enjoy a wealth of stores, senior-focused services and other valuable amenities within easy walking distance of their homes, but the idea of “easy walking distance” can change drastically as age. Consider the following:
- How close is my local supermarket? If it is not conveniently close, do they offer some type of delivery service?
- What are the walking conditions in my neighborhood? Are there cracked sidewalks or missing curb cuts that could create a fall hazard? (If so, start calling 311 early and often to demand repairs!)
- Are public transportation stations easily accessible? What if you use a wheelchair or other mobility device?
- Do I feel safe in my neighborhood? Are there high crime areas I should avoid?
Long Term Planning Financially
It’s often said that while we want fast, inexpensive and good services, we only have the luxury of picking two. If that truism holds, then try to eliminate the need for “fast” services by planning ahead. When preparing for a long term care scenario, consider the following:
- What is my current financial health and what are my assets? Will my assets (vehicles, homes, etc.) gain or lose value over time?
- Will my insurance policies work to my benefit over time? Should I invest more in long term care insurance or other policies that will provide me with funds to live comfortably at home?
- If a medical emergency should suddenly prevent me from communicating with others, have I spoken with a family member or trusted friend about how I want my finances handled? Have I spoken with a financial planner to write these wishes down?
Building a Medical Plan
As we age, medical expenses typically make up a larger and larger percentage of our overall spending. Fortunately, these expenses can be at least partially mapped out if you develop a clear outlook on your medical future. In order to better plan, consider the following:
- Speak to your doctor about your family medical history and current health to identify medical conditions you might experience and how they will impact day to day life.
- Research these possible medical conditions; learn the warning signs of these conditions and how they will impact your ability to live independently.
- Try to build relationships not just with your primary physician, but try to identify local specialists you would like to work with should you need their assistance.
- Look for support groups or communities of people facing similar challenges. Simply talking to others with a similar experience can give you the confidence to know that your condition will not dictate how you live your life.
- Consider your personal medical desires, especially regarding who can make decisions about your medical care if you are incapacitated and establishing clear guidelines for this decision-maker to follow. Determining a medical and/or financial Power of Attorney can be a huge relief if you are anxious about the future.
Long Term Care Planning
After considering your home, neighborhood, finances and medical future, you should have enough information to begin building your Long Term Care Plan. Reach out to local in-home care agencies and form a relationship with an agency that you feel confident will provide you with the support you need.
Rather than simply identifying a well-reviewed agency, give them a call and explain your current and expected future situation. If you have specific concerns and want to know if the agency’s staff can help you, ask! By planning far ahead, you can allow yourself to be far pickier about who you will trust with your day to day care as you age.
SelectCare hopes you found this guide helpful. Preparing now for your later years can feel overwhelming, but by working away at these big questions piece by piece, you can sail into your sunset years with confidence and comfort.
SelectCare Home Care Services of NYC has been helping New Yorkers live happier, healthier lives in the comfort of their long-time homes for more than 30 years. To learn more about how we help, call SelectCare or request a free in-home care guide to start planning for tomorrow today!