Make plans before they are needed
The best time to make decisions regarding long-term care is well before care is needed. An unexpected illness or injury may force you or a loved one into making hasty decisions.
Long-term care is a set of services and supports for people who are unable to perform "Activities of Daily Living" (ADLs). ADLs are self-care activities, such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, and bowel and bladder management.
About 70 percent of people turning 65 can expect to need some kind of long-term care services as they age. Experts encourage everyone over age 50 to research options and make important choices. Long-term care planning means developing a personal strategy now for how things should be handled later when you or a loved one needs care.
Staying in charge
An important part of long-term care planning is outlining how you would like things to be handled. Expressing preferences clearly about how any declines in ADLs should be handled, what financial resources are available, and who should provide needed care is a good way to retain control.
All adults over age 18 should execute legal documents that appoint one or more individuals to make health care and financial decisions for them should they become unable to make decisions for themselves. An attorney can also prepare an advance care directive, which is a set of written instructions detailing what medical care you want or do not want.
Those who would prefer to stay at home for as long as possible should consider making modifications as needed. Typical modifications include adding wheelchair ramps, installing medical alert systems and adding handrails or safety grips.
Unpaid family members are the most common source of long-term care help. But they may not be able to provide all the care you need, or be there every hour or each day. If you intend to rely on family members for long-term care services be sure to involve them in your planning. Make sure they are willing and able to be caregivers for you.
As part of your plan, look into caregiving services in your area, including in-home care providers and elder daycare centers. Several types of housing come with support services for people who cannot fully take care of themselves due to aging or disability. For more about various housing facilities and costs that relate to long-term care, visit longtermcare.gov.