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October is long term care planning month, making it the perfect time to start thinking about your strategy for care in your golden years.

There are four categories to consider when making long term care plans: housing, health, legal, and financial. With each of them, it’s important to look at both the big picture and the smaller details. 

Housing

What’s your present living situation? Is it mobility accessible or can it be retrofitted? Will you be able to keep up with the cleaning and maintenance? Perhaps downsizing or planning for a move to retirement housing makes more sense? Think about each of these considerations carefully. Here’s some help from The National Institute on Aging.

Health

Think about your present health condition and any risk factors. Also, consider who will be available to care for you should the need arise. For some people, moving to assisted living can ensure they get the health services they need. In other cases, in-home care from professionals and/or family makes sense.

Legal

Having legal documents in place before there’s an issue ensures your loved ones know your wishes. There are two key pieces to consider. First, a medical power of attorney. This person is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. The second is a living will. Note that these are not considered legally binding in all states. This link takes you to state-specific advance planning forms.

However, they’re still important documents in helping your health care team and loved ones know your wishes.

Financial

Taking all of your housing and health considerations into account, you’ll need to come up with an approximate cost and method for paying them. There are many options for this, and we suggest you look at all the resources on LongTermCare.gov. For additional support, speak with a financial planner.

Having each of these long term care components figured out in advance provides peace of mind for you and your family.