Let’s face it. Father time catches up to all of us eventually. We can’t deny it. We can fight it tooth and nail, but, ultimately, we all are going to get old – just as our parents did and as our grandparents did before them. The best approach to dealing with aging is to plan for it and make provisions for a comfortable life. Taking steps now to determine what you want life to be like in your 70’s, 80’s and beyond will go a long way and determining the quality of it. Here are some tips on how to help seniors plan for their later years.

Take these steps to plan for old age or for your parents’ senior years:

  1. Have an open and honest conversation about the future: The first and most important step in preparing for your future is determining what you want it to look like. Do you want to live at home, on a beach somewhere, or among your peers in a senior community? Getting to the place you want to be doesn’t happen by accident. It requires serious consideration of likes and dislikes, finances and where you truly see yourself in the coming years. From there, it’s important to speak with your spouse and family about your choices. They may likely be affected by whatever decision you make. They can also give you great input because they know you. Share your thoughts with them, don’t hold back.
  2. Consider your long-term care options: It’s very important to consider all options for long-term care long before you need it. Most people want to live at home. If you are one of them, consider options like in-home health care. If your children are going to take part in your care as you get older, you should consider respite care as it will prevent them from burning out. Also, it’s important to consider the two types of in-home health care, companion care and in-home medical care. Companion care deals with non-medical tasks like driving to appointments, bath assistance and cooking. With in-home medical care, a nurse comes to the home.
  3. Save for retirement: No matter how you want to live out your later years, it’s going to require money. Saving for retirement is an investment in the life you want to live. It also becomes necessary when you reach an age or a level of health where working becomes difficult. Additionally, it’s important to have a plan for what happens to your money when you are not here. Talk to a financial advisor or lawyer about your financial situation and your plans for the future.
  4. Prepare a living will: There may come a time when you will no longer be able to make decisions about your healthcare. If you become ill or suffer a serious injury, it’s important that you have clear directions set for how you want your financial plans, healthcare and treatment to be handled. A living will is a written plan that gives doctors instructions on how you wanted to be treated if you are dying or permanently unconscious and cannot make decisions during an emergency. You may also want to consider a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document naming a healthcare proxy or someone who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Contact a lawyer to handle either document.
  5. Consider purchasing additional health insurance: Medicare may not cover all of your medical expenses. It’s a good idea to consider supplemental insurance to cover procedures that Medicare may not cover. Also, long-term care insurance can help with the costs of care as you get older.
  6. Adapt a healthy lifestyle: If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start. A healthy diet and consistent exercise can literally add quality to your senior years by warding off the deteriorating effects of fatty foods or stress. Add more vegetables, fruits and lean meats to your diet (if you’re not a vegetarian.) Also, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
  7. Find your village: There are many things that you can do in terms of preparing yourself physically and financially for your senior years, but nothing enhances the quality of your life more than the people you spend time with. Nurture relationships with family and friends. Make time for them. Go on walks, take trips together, but most importantly, show them how much you love and appreciate them.

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