For older seniors, preparedness is the key to aging gracefully. I strongly believe that a major aspect of preparedness should be what I refer to as a “late-life care plan”.
Let me explain…
We’d all love to see our parents and older family members approach life’s final chapters with the grace, dignity, and peace that comes from having sufficiently thought things through.
Most of us tend to think about “getting our affairs in order” in the context of financial, inheritance, and legal preparedness. But I’d argue that there’s another aspect of advanced planning that is just as important, one that is probably more challenging for the family and certainly more emotionally charged.
I’m referring to late-life care planning, and it’s something every family with aging seniors should be doing NOW, when everyone is still reasonably healthy, and long before a crisis hits.
Creating a late-life care plan essentially forces families to talk through how an older person will be cared for once they reach advanced age. Will they age in place? If so, what resources will be enlisted to help them? Will they transition to a senior community of some sort? If so, what type of community?
And I’m not talking generalities here. A late-life care plan should be very specific and should attempt to accommodate as many eventualities as possible. It should consider the senior’s health, financial situation, and personality. Research should be done to identify, in advance, which resources and/or communities might be the best fit for the senior at each stage of late life, including dire emergency situations. And the results of this research should be shared with the family.
Late-life care planning is hard. It sometimes feels morbid. It almost always involves contention between seniors and their adult children and can create temporary friction between siblings. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor, and if properly conducted can make a huge difference in a senior’s ultimate quality of life. It also builds long-lasting family bonds, something I’ve seen first-hand.
Perhaps most importantly, it pays off in spades when a crisis does hit, and everyone involved is on the same page as to the path forward. Believe me, you don’t want to get backed into a corner at the most inopportune time, which is something that tends to happen when families are unprepared. I see this every single day in my practice, and it’s tough to deal with.
So, if you have aging parents or an aging loved one, or perhaps you’re getting up in years yourself, I’d urge you to do some serious soul searching and embark on an effort to create your family’s own late-life care plan. If you’d like some help with that, I can offer some advice and perspective, or even guide you through the whole process. Feel free to book a consultation here -> www.calendly.com/ellendonovan/30min.
About the Author:
Ellen Donovan is an RN Senior Care Consultant, and President of One Life Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that helps older adults and their families navigate the many challenges associated with late life care, including late-life care planning, patient advocacy, aging in place, facility selection and placement, and crisis management. Ellen has devoted her entire nursing career to providing the best outcomes for older adults, and now brings this expertise to the senior care community in a new and unique way.
Ellen also publishes a free monthly email newsletter, Sustenance, that is devoted entirely to self-care, something she believes applies to everyone, regardless of age or life situation.