The Importance of Long Term Care Planning

While New York City’s easy access to amenities, healthcare facilities, and public programming make it a fantastic place for older adults who plan to remain in their long-time homes, early planning remains critical to maintaining long-term independence and safety.

The following blog reviews some of the key considerations older adults should make as they develop a long-term plan for their golden years.Man and woman embracing

Developing a Long Term Mindset

As we age, our bodies and abilities naturally change.  Tasks like setting out the trash or reaching a subway platform that were once automatic might begin to require more planning and preparation over time.

The key to successful long-term planning is to step back from your immediate needs and abilities to consider how they may change with your overall health.

Planning Begins at Home

New York apartment buildings often function as micro-neighborhoods, and older adults can expect to spend considerable time in their homes, especially during the summer and winter months.  As a result, ensuring your home environment is suitable for changing physical abilities is a key consideration.

When assessing how suitable your living space is for aging-in-place, consider the following:

  • 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?
  • Do I feel safe in my building and apartment?

If any of these questions give you pause, think about steps you can take now to improve the situation. Advocating for a working buzzer/intercom or building ties with your neighbors can take time and energy, but are far easier now than in the future.

Consider Your Neighborhood

NYC neighborhoods generally offer easy access to grocery stores, medical care providers and other important amenities within walking distance, however, our personal definition of “walking distance” and “easy access” may change with time.

Think about the places and services you regularly use in your neighborhood and consider the following:

  • How close is my local supermarket? If it is not conveniently close, do they offer some type of delivery service? What about my local pharmacy?
  • 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?
  • Are there particular intersections or street crossings that seem unsafe for those who move more slowly?

These considerations may feel mundane now, but having prior knowledge of and possible workarounds for these challenges can play a huge role in preserving your ability to stay active in your community.

Consider Your Finances

While New Yorkers generally enjoy a high quality of life in terms of available services, that perk comes with a notoriously high cost of living.

While it is never too early to start considering long-term finances, most elder care experts recommend you begin considering your long-term financial health starting in your 50’s.

  • 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?
  • What are my fixed monthly expenses (rent, mortgage, property taxes and utilities)? Do I have the resources to manage these expenses in the long term?

Think About Future Medical Needs

Medical expenses typically increase as we age, and changing medical conditions can have a significant effect on your ability to remain independent in the long term.

While these changes are a natural part of the aging process, they do not need to come as a sudden surprise, and many can be overcome with appropriate prior planning.

When thinking about future medical needs, consider the following:

  • How do you feel about your current health literacy? What resources are available to you now that you can use to improve it?
  • 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. Establish 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.

Find Support You Can Trust Early

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 whom 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!