I think of myself as a very optimistic person, so I wasn't too surprised with the 2012 survey conducted by The National Council on Aging, United Health Care and USA Today, stated overall baby boomers are optimistic about their health and the future. However, when I started delving into the article a little deeper, I started getting that queasy feeling that every dose of optimism needs an equal dose of realism.
The first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, and the majority have not addressed their long term needs or made plans for their senior years. Medicare does not usually pay for long term care.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau projections, by 2030, 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65. This is one out of every five Americans. Elders represent the fastest growing age group, and many of those will require some type of long term care.
The American Society of Aging reports that after age 65, an American has more than a 70 percent chance of needing help with their activities of daily living (ADL). This means they will require a caregiver helping them on a daily basis with some of their most basic needs.
Depending on the type and level of assistance required, the types and services required can vary significantly. ADL's are measured to help determine a baseline level of services needed to help create a service plan. Remember, Medicare does not pay for long term care. Who will be helping you?
Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, eating, continence, toileting needs, and transferring. Instrumental ADL's are also evaluated, which deal with more complex tasks; such as, their ability to live safely and independently. Instrumental ADL's include whether they are able to drive or use transportation, meal preparation, managing medication and finances, shopping, maintaining the home and using the telephone.
It is critical to know what ADL's are, because it defines the level of assistance required, which will impact the cost of care.
I is important to take the time to figure out who will take care of you, or your parents or other loved ones. Here are a list of Three Crucial Steps to take now to prepare for a smoother transition to elder care for you and your family. These include monitoring your health insurance, getting documents in order, and knowing what resources are available.
As your health status changes, are you prepared to meet your in home care, and or long term care needs?
The first crucial step is to make it a yearly habit to review your healthcare policy. Confirm the coverage you have, is appropriate for you at the current stage in your life. Compare your prior policy with the new policy to check for changes in coverage, and providers. Check that your insurance provider still has a high rating. It is important to evaluate and assess all of your healthcare options.
Secondly, are you or your loved ones documents and estate in order? These include Durable Power of Attorney, wills, advanced directive, etc.? Does it indicate who you would want to make important decisions for you, if you were incapable? Are they easily accessible in case of emergency? It doesn't do anyone any good, if it is locked up in a safe deposit box and only you know where the documents are. Make the decisions now when you can express what you want and share with your loved ones your wishes. Let your parents know how important if is for them to express their wishes now, so all their hard work If you anticipate your children will be involved in providing your care, tell them what you want!
The third crucial step is to take time to research resources and providers in your community. Know what is available and who the industry leaders are in your area, and what resources are available.
There are numerous resources to help the elderly stay in the home including home modifications, safety monitoring services, hearing aids, veteran benefits, medication monitoring services, etc. An in home evaluation or life care plan by a Geriatric Care Manager is an excellent way to confirm you have addressed all the pertinent issues.
Previously, we have been called the "Sandwich Generation", because we not only have our children to take care of, but often our parents too. The new term is the "Club Sandwich Generation" because people are living longer. Many people have their grandparents and grandchildren requiring help too.
According to the US Census data, approximately 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic condition, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis or respiratory disorders. Many of these conditions can be prevented, minimized or controlled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Take time now to prepare for your future, so you can spend quality time with your family, and have the resources available to help make your senior years become some of your best years.