Senior care planning milestones for age 50 and beyond

Health and financial planning that can help you and your caregiver

How well you handle your elder care planning affects you and the people who will be caring for you when you need it most. When senior care planning, including preparing for retirement financial milestones, you should consider both your personal and financial health.

Senior care planning milestones in your 50s

Emergency preparedness

Although you may feel like you are in perfect health at this stage in your life, it’s never too early to start planning for future changes and emergencies.

“If you are 50 and living alone, you should consider getting an emergency response system,” said Debbie Feldman, LCSW, CMC, and aging life care manager.

An emergency response system is a device worn like a necklace that detects when you fall and alerts the issuing company. The company then alerts emergency responders. The system also has a button you can press to manually alert emergency responders.

“This system saved my mother’s life,” said Feldman. “Who knows if she would have survived if she didn’t have the emergency system.”

If you’re an adult who is caring for a parent, this device can give you peace of mind when you’re not able to be with them.

Long-term care insurance

Financially, Feldman recommends setting up a long-term care insurance plan to help pay the bills when the need for long-term senior care comes. If you wait until you’re older, you may have pre-existing conditions that will make it difficult to qualify for long-term care coverage. She says to look for a policy that will cover private caregivers, home care, and skilled nursing. A policy that includes all three will allow you to stay in your home as long as possible.

Although this may be difficult to budget for in your 50s, Feldman says it’s a necessity: “You may still have children in college and a mortgage to pay, but this has to be part of your financial plan. You have to incorporate this into your budget.”

Short-term care insurance

Early in your senior-care planning is also a good time to consider buying short-term care insurance. If you need to stay in a rehabilitation facility, nursing home, or assisted living facility for less than 12 months, this insurance plan will cover out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare and other health insurance plans won’t cover everything.

Senior care planning milestones in your 60s

Get affairs in order

At this age, start having conversations with your children about advance care planning, Feldman says. Discuss your current financial situation and what kind of help you will want when the day comes. This means talking about whether you would like to go into a retirement community or stay home. You might start thinking about who will be appointed as financial and medical powers of attorney. You should start these documents, as well as your will, as early as possible, then re-evaluate them every five to 10 years.

You may want to consider hiring a certified financial advisor to help guide you through the process of making decisions for elder care financing, including what health insurance coverage to buy and when to start claiming Social Security benefits. You can consider purchasing Hospital Indemnity insurance, which helps cover hospitalization expenses, and Medicare Supplement insurance. Both help bridge the gap between what Medicare pays and your out-of-pocket costs.

You could start preplanning your funeral so the financial burden doesn’t fall on your loved ones. Many people don’t realize how much a funeral costs until their partner passes. But if you buy Final Expense or Preneed Funeral insurance early, you can both be covered.

Start safety preparation

This may be the time to start some simple safety-proofing around the house, too. Feldman says you could pull up floor rugs and install handrails on both sides of staircases to help with fall prevention.

Senior care planning milestones in your 70s and beyond

Safety proofing

Feldman says safety-proofing the house becomes essential at this stage, but you can make changes as needed.

She says walk-in showers are safer than tubs in the bathroom. Safety bars and seats can be installed in showers. Hand-held shower heads make it possible to sit in the shower without the shower spraying over your head. They also enable senior caregivers, such as an adult caring for a parent, to help in the shower. A booster seat on the toilet also makes getting up and down easier.

Ramps might need to be installed for wheelchairs. If this is the case, you’ll also need to widen doorways.

Consult specialists

Feldman says an occupational therapist can visit your home and evaluate your abilities to determine what physical changes you’ll need to make. You may need a floor-to-ceiling pole that you can grab when getting out of bed. Different types of rails can also be installed directly on the bed to help you get up.

Another option is to work with an aging life care manager who serves as an additional support system and your advocate for elder care planning. And you don’t need to wait until you’re in crisis to reach out to an aging life care manager.

“I’ve had many clients who were alone keep a care manager in their ‘back pocket.’ I have a client who had retained me nine years prior to needing services,” said Feldman. “You should always consider retaining an aging life care professional for that ‘what if.’ I probably have three or four clients that keep me available to them. We stay connected just in case that crisis event happens.”
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