Take Steps to Organize Your Care
Aging Matters

A recent column discussed the significant legal paperwork and the long-term care options. Research says, most of us deny that we will ever need long-term care but reality shows differently.

Today, let's look at the steps that help you plan for a medical event if one should occur. It's always best to "prepare in advance" long before you need help. By waiting for the last-minute, it could put you or the other person at risk of stress and in a position of not finding the best care.

  • Find a support community and network. The members offer valuable advice and by connecting with those in the similar situations will comfort knowing you can count on their experience.
  • Organize legal documents -- select a trusted relative, friend, or professional as the power of attorney and the health care proxy, but make sure they understand your wishes.
  • Keep a list of contacts with names and phone numbers of the bank, lawyer, pharmacist, physician, hairdresser, yardman and others who help. Add neighbors, church connections, friends, and family. Don't rely on memory for details.
  • Add local resources -- religious and faith-based groups are reliable support. Consider local groups like Meals-on-Wheels and the Area Agency on Aging.
  • Obtain a home safety assessment -- have the home assessed for safety to determine whether you or another will be safe and secure. The plan will recommend immediate, short-term and long-term solutions.
  • Start discussions with relatives and siblings -- have care conversations with the family and make a plan. Consider each person's natural talents--some are not comfortable giving baths, perhaps they can cook, clean, and run errands.

Turn to your doctor first

Medical issues to discuss with your doctor:

  • If you've fallen in the past 6 months
  • If you take 5 or more medications

Identify cognitive and functional abilities:

  • Do you need help with bathing, dressing, shopping, and paying bills?
  • Do you feel sad?

Identify your social support:

  • Who could help you in a crisis?
  • Do you have a long-term care policy?

Create a care and treatment plan with the medical staff.

  • Take advantage of delivery services for medications and food. Utilize home care if you need help with activities of daily living.

Make safety and fall prevention a priority. Tell your doctor if:

  • You have trouble driving. Let the medical staff know if you experienced accidents or if you've gotten lost while driving.

Create a close bond with your medical team by

  • Developing a relationship with your primary care physician and staff
  • Learn their 24-hour call service
  • Learn if the hospital where your physician works has a 24-hour call service
  • Know nearby Urgent Care Centers
  • Some emergency rooms have fast track lines to help those unsure if it is a real emergency

Sign up for my newsletter - send an email to Carol@Seniorcare.com and write "sign me up" in the subject line.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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