Aging can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be so stressful. Creating a long-term care plan can lessen the impact of foreseeable (and avoidable) stresses and help you pull together the proper resources and support team, should it be needed.
If you or an aging loved one experiences an unforeseen medical event, such as a fall or sudden onset of illness, it can be difficult to put together a care plan in the spur of the moment. Having a plan already in place greatly increases the likelihood of a successful recovery. While the plan may need some adjusting depending on the situation, it is often to modify a plan than to create a new one from scratch. Even a simple list of resources is a great start to care plan; knowing who to call can help immensely under unfortunate circumstances.
When creating a care plan, you will need to consider how much care you require currently and forecast how much you may need in the future. Daily help may be necessary to achieve the independence you desire—whether that be due to a disability or the progression of a chronic illness. Medical or non-medical care may be needed for a few months, years, or even a lifetime.
Individuals and their families will have to make a lot of important considerations. Decisions surrounding where a person wants to live, what kind of care they can afford, and how involved family members will be are all essential to a well-rounded care plan.
Here is an outline of some of the key decisions to consider when creating a long-term care plan.
- Housing Decisions. Deciding where to live as you age is one of the decisions at the forefront of people’s minds.
You should understand how your place of residence can support your needs best, especially as it becomes more difficult to care for yourself. Here are some living options:
- Aging in Place. When someone wants to remain in the comfort of home, there are a few things to consider.
- Skilled vs. unskilled care. While some may simply need care with bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living, others may require a higher level of skilled care. Determine whether medical or non medical care will satisfy your long-term needs.
- Frequency and duration of care visits. How often will you need care? Home care agencies and private duty nursing providers offer weekly wellness checks, which can be valuable if there are no family or friends living nearby. If you foresee the need for 24/7 care, consider what agencies offer that and the associated costs.
- Home modifications. If you want to stay at home, you may want to consider some home modifications to enhance your safety. Read these tips on home modifications to fall proof your home.
- Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities… These are all good options for someone who requires a higher level of support. Consider what facilities offer the specific services you’re interested in and the pricing options.
It is possible for a person who participates in long-term care planning to remain at home for much longer than others who do not plan ahead. The majority of individuals would rather stay at home for as long as possible before transitioning to a long-term care facility. You need to determine the amount and type of care that best suits your needs in order to choose a housing option that is the best fit.
- Health Decisions. Aging is associated with an increased risk in falls, susceptibility to sickness, and a slew of other chronic conditions. If you have been diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disorder like Alzheimer’s or Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the diagnosis should be taken into consideration when considering long-term care options. Consider your family medical history and consult your primary care physician to help you create your care plan.
As you create your long-term care plan, open up the discussion with family and friends about whether or not they would be able and willing to provide support or care. Can they help you by cooking meals once a week, or driving you to medical appointments? Do you foresee a need for more skilled care, such as medication management or infusion administration? Determine whether this is something your family and friends will be able to support you with, or if you will have to find outside resources.
Remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help delay or prevent health issues down the line. Again, it may be important to consult a medical professional about your current lifestyle and what your goals are for the future in terms of your health and independence. Your doctor can work with you to maintain or achieve your desired health outcomes.
- Financial Decisions. Some forms of long-term care may be covered by long-term care insurance or government health insurance programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Others may be private pay. It’s important to address every aspect while creating your plan: your current and future care needs, health goals, and financial situation. A fiduciary can be extremely valuable in helping you find the resources that best fit you.
- Know Your Resources. Above all else, the number one thing you can do is know your resources. It can be difficult—and almost impossible—to prepare for unforeseen circumstances. The best thing you can do is to create a possible list of resources, which includes home care agencies, nursing providers, and case managers that can help guide you through any situation.
In the age of the internet, there are plenty of resources online. Know which websites you can trust and add these to your care plan, too.
NurseRegistry matches people with nurses for private duty care at home. NurseRegistry can be a helpful resource for people who see a need for in-home medical care as part of their long-term care plan.
NurseRegistry offers a full range of services and has nurses available in a range of specialties, including RNs certified in Case Management. A Case Management Nurse can be incredibly valuable when navigating the health care space—especially under unforeseen circumstances.
If a loved one experiences a sudden and unexpected hospitalization, our free Hospital Discharge Planning Guide can be a valuable tool in navigating the hospital discharge process. The guide includes a link to resources like our Hospital Discharge Planning Checklist, which can greatly simplify the process.
NurseRegistry nurses are able to provide care in the comfort of home, accompany you to medical appointments, and provide supplemental care at acute or long-term care facilities. Put simply, NurseRegistry can send a nurse to you wherever care is needed most.
Many people plan for their retirement in a financial sense, but few plan for their retirement in a health care sense. Consider how your health may change and take steps to prepare for your future. You’ll be glad you did.
If you would like to learn more about NurseRegistry as a care resource, call (650) 462-1001 to speak with one of our Nurse Coordinators.