Strategic Care Plan Creation: A Comprehensive Guide for Older Adults and Their Families

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September 29, 2023 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
At some point, most older people will need help getting through the day. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone turning 65 today has a 70% chance of eventually requiring assistance with basic living activities, such as bathing, dressing and using the toilet.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

A care plan is an outline of what you'll need as you age from housing to finances to health care. Care plan creation is a detailed approach designed to address the specific needs, preferences, and goals related to the care of older adults. It serves as a roadmap for individuals and their families, outlining the necessary steps, resources, and support required to maintain optimal wellbeing and quality of life of the elderly as they navigate the challenges of aging, especially in communities like Lynchburg, VA.

Importance of Early Planning

Risks of Delayed Long-Term Care Planning

Delayed planning often results in a reactive approach, leading to increased stress, family conflicts, escalating costs, and compromised quality of care. Creating a care plan well in advance offers numerous benefits says Nerd Wallet’s recent article, “Create a Care Plan for Older Parents (or Yourself). ” Do so allows families to get organized, locate appropriate resources, figure out financial strategies, and reduce stress and conflicts.

Strategies for Overcoming Denial or Wishful Thinking about Aging

Denial and wishful thinking are significant barriers to early care planning. Addressing this denial is crucial, as it allows individuals and families to face the reality of aging, develop comprehensive plans, and enhance preparedness. Planning for temporary disabilities, visualizing specific scenarios, and engaging in open discussions can help families overcome denial and encourage proactive planning.

Components of a Care Plan

Addressing Basic Living Needs

A comprehensive care plan begins with the identification and assessment of the basic living needs of the elderly individual, fostering their independence and quality of life.

A care plan must consider the potential occurrence of temporary and permanent disabilities and outline the necessary support and adaptations required in each scenario.

Consideration of Aging in Place and Its Implications

Aging in place is a preference for many older adults. A care plan must address the logistical and practical aspects of aging in place, including home adaptations, caregiver arrangements, and community resources. For example, ask what kind of help you or your loved one might need after a hip or knee replacement. How well is the home set up for recovery? Who would help with household tasks?

Detailed Action Plans

Each component of the care plan should be accompanied by a detailed action plan, specifying the steps, responsibilities, and timelines for implementation. A care plan requires regular review and adjustment to accommodate changing needs, preferences, and circumstances. Addressing the mental and emotional needs of older adults is as important as catering to their physical needs.

Financial Considerations in Care Plan Creation

Exploring Various Funding Sources

Financial planning is a cornerstone of effective care plan creation, requiring a thorough exploration of available funding sources to cover the costs associated with elder care. Understanding and estimating the potential costs of care is crucial for effective financial planning. Government programs and benefits such as veterans benefits, Medicaid, or state programs, can provide significant financial support for elder care, especially in regions like Lynchburg, VA.

Logistical Considerations in Care Plan Creation

Assessing the Current Living Environment

Evaluating the suitability of the current living environment for aging and identifying necessary modifications can have financial implications. It is important to look at whether the current home is “aging friendly.” Professionals like occupational therapists can provide a thorough evaluation, which is important to do early in the process. Adapting the living environment to accommodate the aging individual’s needs is a vital logistical consideration.

Care Providers and Community Resources

Determining the involvement of family members in providing care is a critical logistical consideration. If family members will serve as care providers, discuss the logistics, including whether and how much they will be paid. If the care plan includes the utilization of professional caregivers or home health aides, the logistical aspects of hiring and supervision must be addressed.

In addition, ensuring access to essential community resources and services is crucial for supporting aging in place. The incorporation of social and community considerations into the care plan is crucial to ensure a holistic approach to aging. The surrounding community plays a pivotal role in supporting older adults who prefer aging in place. Maintaining social connections and accessing essential services are vital for the well-being of older adults. Plus, don't forget to consider transportation and mobility needs to help the older adult maintain independence and access to essential services.

Senior Living Facilities

For some, transitioning to a senior living facility may be a viable option, and understanding the offerings of such facilities is crucial. An independent living or senior living facility could provide more amenities. However, these typically don’t provide long-term care. Therefore, see if the senior is okay with moving again later or whether they should begin with an assisted living or continuing care facility that can provide more help.

Documentation, Review, and Adjustment of the Care Plan

Proper documentation is the first step in implement the care plan. Once documented, the care plan should be shared with all involved parties to ensure everyone is on the same page. A care plan is not static and should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to accommodate any changes in circumstances, needs, and preferences of the aging adult. Therefore, design a care plan that is flexible enough to adapt to the individual's evolving needs and preferences. Regular reviews and adjustments of the plan will help to ensure the ongoing quality of care, which is crucial for the senior's wellbeing.

Creating a comprehensive care plan is a pivotal step in ensuring the well-being, dignity, and quality of life of older adults, especially in places with strong community bonds like Lynchburg, VA. It involves meticulous consideration of the supports and resources in place, as well as regular evaluation and adaptation of the care plan. By embracing the reality of aging and taking thoughtful and informed actions, we can ensure that our older adults receive the care, respect, and support they deserve, enriching their lives and the lives of those around them. Seeking advice from an elder law attorney, like Robert W. Haley, and financial advisors will provide valuable insights and guidance in navigating the legal and financial aspects of care planning. Schedule a free call today with our team to discuss how to create a care plan for your older loved one or yourself.

Reference: Nerd Wallet (Aug. 24, 2023) “Create a Care Plan for Older Parents (or Yourself)”

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