See yourself dead before needing care?
You’re not alone. Most seniors feel this way because they don’t want to become a burden to their loved ones, says MIT Age Lab Director Joseph Coughlin.
With many children taking care of their parents, they also need to be thinking about themselves, Coughlin says. Navigating seniors’ health care is difficult and stressful. It including conversations ranging from health to financial situations and medical issues…and all of it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
And by sooner, forty or fifty years old isn’t too soon.
The more you prepare — identify the care you want and make preparations for it — the better off you will be, Coughlin says.
One in four American families spend 26 hours a week providing care for a loved one…that more than a part time job.
The medical industry is complex so navigating care can be very challenging. As you get older, there are more illnesses, specialists and medications to handle.
Questions to consider for yourself: What kind of care do you want? How much will it cost? How will you pay for it? How will you receive the care? What quality of care can you expect? And, what are you trying to get done? This includes: coordinating medicines, working with doctors or nurses in a hospital, organizing home care and learning about technology can you use to allow a love one to remain comfortably in his/her home.
You can’t go it alone. You need to find the experts in those areas. With an increasing aging population, many consider geriatric or life care managers — a job sector which is on the rise. Their rates can go from $35 to $245 an hour.
It’s a difficult and lonely process, says healthcare lawyer Christine Dodd, who created her company, Elder Navigator, based on her experience caring for her mom and late father.
Amongst the most common challenges is trying to navigate insurance policies to find out what is covered like skilled nursing and other care or services.
One of the hardest aspects is coordinating care in hospitals with different doctors. Dodd’s advice: be there at 7 a.m. to talk to doctors during their morning rounds to get information.