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Planning for Long-Term Care

How to handle long-term care can become an issue as you, your parents, and your loved ones age. The AARP conducted a survey in the summer of 2010 asking women ages 45 to 64 about their views on long-term care. A reported 59% of the women surveyed said they had not planned for how they will pay for care when they need it. The AARP summed up their findings by stating, “Women in our national survey have a basic understanding of long-term care and its costs, but most seem ill-prepared to pay for their own care if they need it.”

Yet it’s not just women who are unprepared for their health care future—many people do not plan because it can be unpleasant. Navigating the long-term care maze can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially since there is no single entry point into the network. Below are some ideas to help start long-term care planning for either you or a loved one. 

Perhaps the best place to start is with an elder law attorney. While they focus on legal issues affecting seniors, they can also serve as a coordinator and bring together a team of elder care professionals to create a unique plan. They can assist with understanding benefits for veterans; retirement, disability, and estate planning; determining social security eligibility and benefits; and Medicaid rules and planning. Elder law attorneys also help with health care decisions, including planning for when a person can no longer make his own medical decisions. This could include naming a health care proxy or creating a living will. 

Another source that can help with long-term care concerns is your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). AAAs are consumer-focused, statewide systems designed to help seniors and their families obtain information and referrals for financial, medical, and social needs. Acting as a link to community resources, AAAs help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible. To find a local AAA, visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s website at 

Geriatric care managers can function as the objective “eyes and ears” for family members who are taking care of an aging parent. These individuals are typically trained in social services or nursing and can assist by assessing and evaluating a senior’s needs. For people who do not live close to their parents, but are concerned for their health, geriatric care managers can oversee care and alert families of any problems. Geriatric care managers provide referrals, assist with coordinating a plan of care, and offer counseling. 

Home health care providers have a wealth of services and information as well. Call a local provider to find out all they can offer to help you or a loved one live safely at home.

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide