Planning for the Future: Advice for Seniors and Caregivers

By Hazel Bridges, creator of AgingWellness.org

For many seniors, thinking about the future can be extremely stressful. There are many financial considerations to think about, from how you’ll pay for potential medical bills to covering the costs of long-term care. Not only that, you might need to start thinking about end-of-life preparations, especially if you have a large estate or specific ideas about what you want for a funeral or memorial. Taking care of your family may be an important part of the planning process for you as well, so it’s important to do some research now in order to ensure your future is in good shape.

Think about what changes you can make to your home and lifestyle now that will help prevent issues down the road. Many seniors choose to make home modifications for safety that allow them more mobility and accessibility, especially if they currently have health problems that could worsen in the future. Keep reading for some tips on how to plan for the future should you need long-term care.

Take A Look At Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle can have a major effect on the way you feel in the future. If you’re a smoker or drinker, if your diet isn’t well-balanced, or if you don’t get enough exercise in any given week, you may be setting yourself up for health issues that could lead to costly medical bills or a stay in an assisted living facility. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to change your current lifestyle in order to prevent problems down the road. If you’re enrolled in a Humana Medicare Advantage plan, you may have coverage for prescription drugs and hearing and vision care.

Know Your Policy

You may have Medicare, but it often doesn’t cover everything when it comes to long-term care. Take a look at your policy and get familiar with exactly what it will cover in the event you need to stay in the hospital or a nursing home. Also, consider investing in long-term care insurance now, before you need it; buying a policy now can help save you money in the long run.

Think About Your Retirement

How close to retirement are you? What will your needs be afterward? Do you have savings to help fund your post-retirement lifestyle? If not, you may be able to sell your life insurance policy to help pad your savings account and ensure you aren’t scrambling to make ends meet should a medical event affect your life. You can also consider downsizing to a smaller home, which will require selling your current one. However, take a look at listings in and around your area first before you decide to move  — you could end up in a more expensive location, which won’t do much to help your financial situation in retirement.

Reduce Stress

Planning for the future can be extremely stressful, which can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. Look for ways you can take breaks and relax while you’re planning and ask for help from a professional when you feel you need it. Becoming overwhelmed can lead to feelings of depression or sadness, which can, in turn, leave you feeling insecure about your future.

Create A Will

It’s imperative to make sure your plans are in writing, especially if you have a large estate. Letting your loved ones know what you want as far as your health needs go will ensure you’re well taken care of, no matter what happens. Talk to a lawyer about creating a living will so you can make sure your final wishes are carried out. Planning for the future is never easy, but if you start with a solid foundation, you’ll feel much better about it all. Talk to your loved ones and keep communication open so no one is left in the dark about your needs. Do some research to prepare for the financial end of things, and practice self-care to reduce your stress levels during the process.

 

Hazel Bridges is a breast cancer survivor and the creator of the website, Aging Wellness. Vowing to never waste another second after overcoming breast cancer at the age of sixty, Hazel became a strong health and wellness advocate and decided to challenge herself to live life to the fullest. She aims to inspire others through her website where she provides health and wellness resources for aging seniors like her with the hope to inspire and assist them on their journey to become stronger and healthier versions of themselves in their golden years.

This article was orginally published in aakpRENALIFE - Jan. 2020.