We now are living longer;plan for it while you can

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The hardest thing I ever did was put my 87-year-old mother’s belongings in a four-by-four box and admit her to a nursing home.

We had run out of money for her care, nd she became a Medicaid recipient. A summa cum laude graduate of American University, a Pan American flight attendant, a mother of three who traveled the world, was now reduced to a box and a bed in a shared room with a stranger.

This can be avoided. It is not just “preplanning,” it is “strategic planning.” It is not just money, it is the holistic approach of how to age gracefully. The statistics show that “the longer we live — the longer we live.” Twenty years ago, 80 was a “ripe old age.” Today, most of the “Greatest Generation” that is still alive is 90-plus.

Let’s look in the mirror and ask ourselves questions: Am I healthy? How long have members of my family lived? Do I own my home? Do I have longterm-care Insurance? Do I have a solid group of family and/or friends? These are the things that will sustain you as you “grow into your eighties.”

Longterm-care Insurance is a must unless you have a $500,000 that can be used solely for in-home healthcare. The insurance is expensive — $4,000 to $5,000 a year, but that’s the monthly cost at an assisted living center or for in-home care.

If you are not insurable, my next suggestion is a reverse mortgage. This is basically a line of credit using your home as collateral.

Again, there are many options available and it allows you to stay in your home. The issue with reverse mortgage’s is the worth of your house — unless you can receive $500,000 from the mortgage company I suggest you sell it.

Lastly, if your life is insured for over $1 million there might be a market for that policy. It depends on your age and health; again, the magic number is $500,000.

The big “cahuna” in aging is the loss of cognition. If you’re watching your loved one “lose it” remember this: dementia does not mean stupid or loss of intelligence, it means loss of memory. You cannot plan for it, all you can do is delay or avoid it. If you’re genetic history has some dementia component — exercise, eat right and have friends. Today’s studies show that our present day habits affect how we age and our long term cognitive function.

Bottom line: Live life and prepare to live it well!

Frances Reaves, Esq., a graduate of the University of Miami Law School, spent 10 years as a litigator/lobbyist. Today, she Is an accomplished business woman who, when her parents could no longer take care of themselves, learned the ins and outs of senior care (or the lack thereof). She founded Parent Your Parents to assist seniors and their children through the myriad pitfalls and options of “senior care” in the 21st Century. If you have any questions or comments contact Frances at hfrancesr@parentyourparents.com.


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