The majority of senior citizens are going to need help with their day-to-day needs at some point in their lives. Many ultimately reside in assisted-living communities, and this is certainly an option.
There are a couple of different reasons why this course of action is right for a lot of people. For one thing, there is the simple fact that you may not want to leave the home that you have grown familiar with over the years.
This can be true for anyone of any age. You grow accustomed to your home and your neighborhood and you simply don’t want to leave even if you still have a spouse and children in your home.
This is even more profound for a senior citizen. You watch your children move from the home one by one, and perhaps you may lose your spouse. You no longer work because you’re retired and you lose that interaction with coworkers.
Your home is the one constant that you have in your life. The thought of losing this could make a very challenging situation even worse.
Okay, but…what about the care?
Clearly, staying at home may be preferable but the whole point is that you need assistance. Long-term care facilities provide that assistance.
While this is true you can do certain things that facilitate effective in-home care. When it comes to the physical structure you can simulate the environment that you would have in an assisted-living community by making modifications to your home.
These could include walk-in showers, motion sensor faucets and other similar devices, grab bars, handrails, and any number of other improvements.
Modifying the physical structure is part of the equation, but you also have to address the human element. You may be fortunate enough to have family and friends who will be willing to provide you with the assistance that you need.
In fact, though it may be challenging at times for the caregivers it is somewhat heartening to learn that most of the living assistance that is provided to elders in the United States is coming from family members and friends.
When everyone communicates as a group the people that you know that are willing to assist can coordinate their efforts and make sure that you have the help that you need.
That’s in a perfect world. Some people do not have a ready support system. Others have family members who simply have time demands because they have to make a living. They don’t have the time to provide the care that is necessary.
When you are looking ahead toward your elder years, in addition to living assistance, you should also consider incapacity planning, because the segment of the population that is at least 85 years old is growing rapidly. According to the United States Census Bureau, between the years 2000 and 2010 the 10 year age grouping comprised of people between 85 and 94 years of age grew faster than any other.
Clearly, as you get older the possibility of incapacity increases. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that some 45 percent of individuals who are at least 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Thirteen percent of people who are at least 65 have contracted Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Alzheimer’s induced dementia may not be able to make sound decisions on their own.
Even if there was no other cause of incapacity, the ubiquity of Alzheimer’s disease would make incapacity planning a must. However, many people are incapacitated due to other causes.
A guardianship or conservatorship hearing could take place if you were to become incapacitated without planning ahead for this possibility on your own. Interested parties could petition the court to appoint a guardian or a conservator. This individual would take over your affairs and make decisions in your behalf. You would in turn become a ward of the state.
Such a hearing could be avoided if you put an incapacity plan in place.
Why would you want to avoid a guardianship? Firstly, the guardian that is appointed by the court may not be someone that you would have chosen if you made the choice yourself when you were of sound mind.
Secondly, the proceeding can be time-consuming, and you may be in immediate need of a competent decision maker to act in your behalf. Thirdly, there can be infighting among family members during guardianship proceedings.
In Michigan, you can select your own hand-picked decision-makers and avoid a guardianship hearing by executing legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney. With these legal devices you name agents who are empowered to act in your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
Many people execute two different durable powers of attorney. One of them will be devoted to health care decisions. You name an attorney-in-fact to make medical decisions in your behalf.
The other would be a financial durable power of attorney. With this document you name a financial decision maker.
The same person does not have to serve both roles. You may want one individual to handle your finances and another to make your health care decisions. This can be facilitated by naming two different attorneys in fact when you are creating your durable powers of attorney.
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