At various times – the new year, the beginning of school, the beginning of a new season – almost everyone we know makes commitments to have a plan for their health, or their business, or their career, or their kids’ sports or tutoring, or updating their home. How often do we hear of someone committing to a plan for a better, brighter, healthier, happier year for their aging parents or grandparents? Honestly, we don’t hear about it very often, and now, more than ever, we need to be having the conversation.
We would like to hear more conversations about what plans can be in place for families before a crisis, illness, or injury arises. Making a plan is vital to smooth transitions, and talking about what elements will be in the plan is vital to removing the sort of “old and infirm” stigma that makes people shy away from these decisions in the first place. The more we talk, the more normalized and less doomsday these conversations become, the better off we will be as families and as a community.
Imagine if we all talked about aging as the natural phenomenon it is, rather than a dreaded journey to be avoided at all costs. In talking about aging and the decisions that come with it, and in making a plan for the future, you won’t just be helping your own family. You will be setting an example for your family and taking a stand for the normalcy of something that happens to all of us if we’re lucky.
In order to encourage you to begin the conversation, here are a few things to check off your planning list for both you and your loved ones:
1) Have a Durable Power of Attorney in place. If the Durable POA does not address health care decisions, have a Health Care Surrogate directive in place.
2) Have a Living Will in place.
3) Have a Last Will and Testament in place.
4) Discuss and record where bank accounts are located, what insurance policies are in place, and where any safe deposit boxes might be.
These simple things will give you a great start to preparedness and peace of mind. And you will have begun a conversation that will open the door to answering many questions that will arise over time. Talk it out – you’ll never be so glad you were chatty!
Elizabeth Downing is Care Coordinator for Timesavers Concierge, Caregiving & Chauffeur in Bowling Green and Owensboro, Kentucky. A 1982 graduate of WKU, Elizabeth found her passion in advocating and providing care for older adults and those beginning to navigate life’s transitions. Timesavers seeks to raise awareness of issues relating to aging and caring for aging loved ones, and to let people know they are not alone in the journey, while working to provide the highest quality day to day care available. Elizabeth is an Aging Life Care™ Professional; a Positive Approach to Care™ Certified Independent Consultant; and has completed a Certificate in Care Management from Boston University. She facilitates a family caregiver support group each month.