Why is having a Long Term Care Plan So Critical?

Updated: Apr 7

When it comes to navigating the journey of aging, let alone a diagnosis such as Parkinson's or Dementia, clear communication and documentation of our affairs and wishes is critical. Planning ahead for long-term care is important because there is a good chance you will need some level of long-term care if you live beyond the age of 65. About 70% of people over the age of 65 require some services, and the likelihood of needing care increases as you become older or you are faced with a Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Planning ahead helps you and all family members understand what long-term service options are available in your local community, what special conditions may apply for receiving services - for example, age or other eligibility criteria - what long-term services cost, and what payment options (public and private) apply.

Unexpected scenarios happen, such as a fall that might result in a broken hip - or medication adjustments that require more one on one care. Thinking through these potential scenarios helps you to have a plan in place so that if or when they do happen, your family can take action to honor your wishes without debate during an already stressful and emotional time. Having this information helps ensure you will have a range of options when you need long-term care and makes it more likely that you will have more choice and control over where and how you receive long-term care services.

A long-term care plan helps individuals ensure continued good health by improving overall quality of life, enabling them to live independently for as long as possible. It also ensures that families, aging individuals and health care providers are all on the same page regarding health care and living arrangements, as well as understanding the roles needed to help manage the needs of the aging individual.

It is important to plan ahead because the cost of long-term care services often exceeds what the average person can pay from income and other resources. By planning ahead, you may be able to save your assets and income for uses other than long-term care, including preserving the quality of life for your spouse or other loved ones. With long-term care planning, there is a greater likelihood of being able to leave an estate to your loved ones, because you are less likely to use all your financial resources in order to pay for long-term care.

Planning ahead for long-term care also means less emotional and financial stress on your family. It can provide a way to involve your family in decisions without depending on them to bear the entire burden alone when the time comes.

Finally, one of the most important advantages of planning ahead is to ensure greater independence should you need long-term care. Your choices for receiving care outside of a long-term care facility and being able to stay at home or receive services in the community for as long as possible are greater if you have planned ahead.

At Engage Care Partners, our goal is to create family unity and harmony by helping those aging or impacted by a diagnosis such as Parkinson's or Dementia to plan for their future. We go through a check-list to make sure all areas are addressed, including establishing, consulting, and documenting Advanced Directives, Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorneys and Estate Plans. We gather the materials in a way that is simple to follow and can make sure that all family members are in the know and on the same page. Plans can always be revisited or adjusted as needed.

In addition to making sure all the practical information is well documented and shared with the parties that need to know, Engage Care Partners distinguishes ourselves by being able to help you navigate your long-term care options because we know them in your local area - especially when it comes to navigating Parkinson's and Dementia. Some of the areas we assess and discuss for you to discern and make your own decisions, include:

  • Are you plugged into the best medical care team in the area?

  • Do you have the best insurance options - and what about long-term care insurance?

  • Where can you get the best insight and resources for your diagnosis?

  • What programs, support groups and other local resources are available to you?

  • How can you prepare your home to stay at home reducing potential fall hazards?

  • Should you consider shopping and visiting Independent Senior Communities, Assisted Living or Memory Care Facilities?

  • What is the difference between home health care and home care assistance, and how can you leverage it?

  • Who from my family can help us throughout this journey and what roles can they fill?

  • How can caregivers prepare for the journey in supporting their loved ones? What support will they need?

  • And so much more...

Having an unbiased, experienced care navigator in these areas locally can help you understand the varying scenarios to plan ahead. Doctors/Neurologists and their teams need to be focused on how to serve you best medically. Lawyers/Attorneys focus on helping you build and document your personal business. But who truly helps you understand and plan for the journey of your long-term care needs? Social workers can help, but often they are in great demand and have limited time - sending you tons of resources for you to wade through. Being able to discuss your options with insights from others' experiences can help you discern the best decision.

Planning ahead brings with it a great sense of peace and relief for everyone involved. We can partner with you to streamline the resources and focus in on the areas that you need when you need it. We can help you understand what it means to choose home or assisted living. We can help you assess your village and finances to know what you can afford to get the absolute best care.

You matter. Your family matters. Keep peace and harmony by developing, properly documenting and sharing your wishes so that you can be honored with dignity through the care you receive. Not only are you easing a burden for all involved, you are amplifying your voice to be heard when it gets noisy.

Engage Care Partners, LLC is a small consulting business that offers care navigation and support to all who are diagnosed with a chronic illness in the Greater Birmingham and Shelby County areas of Alabama. To learn more about how you can put together your own Long-Term Care Plan, Contact us at 1.205.843.1908, or email us at brooklyn.white@engagecarepartners.com.

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