Working with so many families with different situations at Aging Wisely, you might be surprised that we see some common mistakes. Or, more accurately, some common assumptions that people tend to make that lead to misguided eldercare planning or unanticipated problems later. Whether you are in your golden years, helping an aging parent or just want to be wise about planning ahead, knowing these eldercare pitfalls can help you.
What are the top mistakes or assumptions people make in eldercare planning?
- Assuming that loved ones will be able to provide any and all care that is needed. Family members do provide 80% of the long-term care assistance in the U.S. and you likely have family members that will be willing to pitch in to help. However, there are many reasons that may not be enough. First, your family’s circumstances may not allow for a family member to take on primary caregiving (for example,you may live hundreds of miles apart with neither party able to relocate, your children may be raising their own children and unable to quit jobs). Second, your loved one may not physically be able to provide the care you need (can your daughter or son lift you, bathe you, and transfer you if you’re unable to help at all?). There are many additional reasons you shouldn’t assume your loved ones can provide all your care.
- Assuming Medicare will cover what you need. Medicare is not intended to cover long-term care needs. It is really an acute care health insurance and therefore does not cover the types of custodial care that people often need at some point as they age. You can read more in our articles on Medicare and long term care and Florida Medicaid.
- Assuming you have enough money based on a steady rate of spending ( i.e. neglecting to count healthcare and other care costs in retirement planning/budgets). Acute healthcare costs alone average over $250,000 from age 65 to death, without factoring in long-term care. This is why planning and professional help are so vital…from understanding appropriate options to choosing insurance coverage and matching care planning to a budget.
- Assuming your loved ones know what you would want. Your loved ones may have to take over decision making for you at some point, or at the very least will likely be involved in helping you. It is important to equip them to understand your perspective, especially the appointed decision makers (healthcare surrogate, power of attorney). Families rarely talk about end-of-life wishes or even preferences for the time when care might be necessary. While it may not seem like a pleasant topic of conversation, it is a lot worse to leave your family members in the position of guessing what you would want during a crisis. Make sure you not only take care of the legal planning, but have the conversations to go along with it.
- And, of course, the biggest mistake is in not planning at all, or assuming it is not something you’ll need to think about because you are healthy. The biggest problem with this assumption is that by not planning, you potentially lose choices and put yourself and your loved ones in the position of making decisions in a crisis.
There are a lot of little assumptions people make in retirement and eldercare planning, as well. Sometimes people assume certain decisions or processes will be straightforward (e.g. choosing a Medicare plan, picking an assisted living facility, getting financial help for eldercare). This can lead to ill-informed choices and regrets later.
Assuming you can do it all on your own, while it may be possible, might not be the wisest use of your resources. Getting professional help can make all the difference in your outcomes.
Another common issue is not sharing sufficient information with the professionals helping you. To be able to give you the right advice, professional advisors need to know your circumstances. Don’t neglect to tell your estate planning attorney about that estranged family member or deep-seated conflict, for example. Don’t leave out major financial information when talking to your financial advisor, elder law attorney or geriatric care manager.
The best place to start for eldercare planning, or to deal with a current question or concern is an eldercare consultation. Get help with everything from care options to navigating Medicare and long-term care to choosing the best assisted care. You can call us at 727-447-5845 or click below to request a consultation: