(BPT) - There are countless guides to planning for various stages in life — starting a career, building a family, entering retirement — but when it comes to aging, there is very little guidance. You deserve to enjoy your later years in life to the fullest, with ready access to the support you need to do so. Planning for your long-term care proactively has financial, physical and emotional benefits that can ease future stresses for you and your loved ones. As each care journey is unique, investing thoughtful preparation now can help to ensure implementation of a plan that fits you and your lifestyle for years to come.
These five steps will kick-start the planning process to help you craft a personalized long-term care plan.
Step 1: Let’s start with the basics. What is a long-term care plan?
Long-term care involves a variety of services to help people live as independently and safely as possible while meeting their health and personal needs, especially as they age. This type of care may take place at home, in assisted living and respite care facilities, or in nursing homes. When planning for long-term care, it is important to consider each stage of the care continuum, because as you and your loved ones age, your care needs may change.
Your care plan should detail:
- Where you would like to live
- Who will provide care and support
- How you will finance care
- How much support you may need to thrive later in life
Step 2: Don’t hesitate, start planning now.
The best time to plan for long-term care is before you need it. It’s possible that you may never develop a need for long-term care, but an unexpected accident, illness or injury can change needs suddenly.
It is important to start planning early so you have time to explore all options and prepare for the various components of care management.
A great way to start the planning process is with an open dialogue with your spouse, children, other family members or a healthcare professional. More on how to approach the conversation in steps four and five.
Another important component of the planning process is financial planning. You may want to consider a long-term care insurance plan. You can speak to an agent about a plan that is right for you. Also, consider what federal government programs and local state programs you may qualify for.
Step 3: Consider the options.
There are multiple options for long-term care, but each plan should include varying levels of care in anticipation of progressing needs.
The most cost-effective option for long-term care is to age in place with the support of a caregiver. Assistance from a caregiver can range in frequency, duration and depth.
It’s never too early to introduce a caregiver into your home. To ease the transition, you can start with one or two days per week for a few hours at a time. Many caregivers can offer flexible hours and a range of care services.
One way to introduce long-term care is through companion care. Companion caregivers provide one-on-one social interaction through outings and events, light exercise, games and hobbies. Research shows that companionship can improve health and extend lifespans for older patients by preventing adverse effects of isolation, including depression, loneliness, declining memory and impaired immune function. Companion care can also help you maintain a high level of physical, mental and emotional stimulation, which all can delay the need for more involved forms of care.
When it comes time for more hands-on care, in-home caregivers can help you age in place comfortably. You can employ a caregiver to provide services ranging from errands, appointment accompaniment, meal preparation, medication reminders and more.
Regardless of the type of care you have, the frequency and duration of care is flexible. A progressing long-term care plan may begin with care for a few hours per week and increase to include full-time or around-the-clock care.
Step 4: Talk to your loved ones.
Start by having an open conversation with your life partner, children or other family members to discuss your plan for long-term care. It may be a tough conversation, but it is important that your family knows your plan as you age.
Consider who in your family will support you in managing care. That person may have access to your medical and financial information and may need to make medical decisions on your behalf, so it is important that the person you select is reliable and understands your wishes.
The line of communication between you and your family should be kept open as you navigate the care continuum. Involve your caregivers or other professionals in your care plan; they may find it helpful to build relationships with your family as well. As these relationships develop over time, your caregiver may begin to feel like a professional member of the family.
Step 5: Talk to an expert
Now that you are ready to plan for the next phase in your life, it is time to speak to an expert. The care team at Tandem Careplanning, a Los Angeles-based in-home care company, can help you explore your options for in-home and companion care services that can evolve in coordination with your care needs.
Tandem Careplanning is focused on transforming the perception of in-home care from a punishment into a reward, allowing each client to live their best life. Tandem caregivers are vetted and trained to provide companionship and in-home care, including meal preparation, medication reminders, errands, transportation, appointment accompaniment, light housework and hygiene.
Reach out to the care professionals at Tandem Careplanning to learn more about planning for long-term care and to understand your options. If you or someone you know is interested in hiring part-time or full-time in-home care or companionship in Los Angeles, contact Tandem Careplanning at 1-800-370-3377 or visit TandemCareplanning.com.