Getting older. We are all faced with it. As my dad has said, if you don’t want to grow old, there is only one other option. (You know, die young…)
As I work with clients, I am constantly confronted with aging and death. How the circle of life comes around and all of us, eventually, will face declines in our health, mental ability, independence, etc. Depressing, isn’t it? Well, it can be, I guess, but also involves not just death but how we live our lives now and the legacy we leave behind. And it makes us confront our ultimate spiritual reality and what we think happens after we leave this earth.
I am an avid newspaper reader. I often read most of the paper. I always make sure I look at 3 things: Dilbert, Dear Abby, and the box score from last night’s Cardinal baseball game or Illini basketball game (depending on the season). Here was a letter I saw in Dear Abby.
Dear Abby: I am a single woman in my 60s who lives alone. One of my greatest fears is developing dementia. Because there is no one living with me, there would be on one around to notice changes in my behavior. I am still able to balance my checkbook, do my grocery shopping, drive myself to the dentist’s office, etc. If I ever need assisted living, how would I recognize the fact so I could make other arrangements before requiring someone else to make them for me? –GROWING OLDER IN SAN DIEGO
Abby had an answer for her: ask your doctor to check you over during each annual physical exam. That’s an OK answer, but I have better one.
Dynasty Program Membership
By planning with me and becoming a member of our Dynasty membership program, a person would have the best disability planning options available. We help clients name a “disability panel” that consists of both loved ones and at least one doctor, who will decide when the person needs help managing their affairs. Because our office has contact with each client at least once a year and most often several times a year, we are also able to watch for signs that a person needs assistance. In fact, we probably know our clients better than their doctors as to the daily living issues. We have spent hours and hours with them over the years.
Once assistance is needed, our clients have already set out instructions in legal documents that outline how they want to be cared for toward the end of life.
Powers of Attorney?
Maybe you are thinking “isn’t a power of attorney enough to plan for disability?” Well, a power of attorney is important, but pull them out and see what instructions are included in there. There are a lot of powers given in those documents, but very few instructions. Where in the power of attorney does it talk about whether you have a preference to be cared for at home rather than a nursing home? Do you have an opinion about that issue? If so, does it make sense to have it written down somewhere in your estate plan?