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By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

Aging happens naturally, but aging well takes careful planning. Take steps to ensure that your financial, living and medical needs will be met in old age.

Thinking about the elderly years and how they will play out usually starts after caregiving. It’s when people understand the difficulties of growing older. Some see their parents deal with heart problems while others confront dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Observing decline is heartwrenching. Caregivers feel parents are invincible but soon find out the contrary.

What families learn about growing older is that getting organized and prepared for the golden years will help them the most when navigating aging services. And to better understand the services that are covered, I’ve outlined below:

1. Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care services – it only pays for acute medical care, doctor visits, drugs, and hospital stays.

2. Medicaid is a combined program offered by the federal and state governments. It helps individuals living with low income and assets.

3. Paying out-of-pocket is a common option.

4. Health insurance covers the restricted and particular types of long-term care.

5. Long-term care insurance pays for long-term supports and services.

Professionals believe that people need to learn the issues they’ll face in the later years.

If you are in the early stages of preparation, consider:

Your home may be easy for you to navigate and comfortable for you now, but think about how that may change when you get older. A big house with lots of stairs to climb may present a serious challenge if you have health or physical problems.

Draw up legal documents: a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney.

Find a trustworthy person or family you can depend on for support and care. Work out a payment strategy and put it in writing. Get legal advice prior to implementing a plan. An elder law attorney can steer you in the right direction. Perform a comprehensive due diligence on the strategy and the person(s) before signing anything.

Hire a chronic care advocate if you live with a prolonged medical condition, preferably an attorney specializing in elder law.

Eat fresh, healthy foods.

Keep your brain sharp by getting involved.

Volunteer and help those in need.

Older adults face many decisions in the last decades of their lives. Taking time to look at the issues ahead and plan accordingly can make the future easier and more enjoyable for both you and the family.

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By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

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

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