Caring for the Elderly: Part 6
Once again, I find myself writing about this subject in the hope that it will encourage others to reflect upon the nature of old age, illness and the consequences that arise from them. There is still a prevailing culture of not discussing and sometimes not even thinking about such matters, but both are an absolute certainty in everyone’s life. All too often people find themselves in extremely difficult situations brought about by such events and the difficulty and emotional trauma is increased due to there being no plan in place or provision to address matters. Therefore, I strongly advocate the following. Some may seem like very obvious points, but recent conversations I’ve had with other carers and people in similar situations, has shown that many people have not made even the most basic of provisions in this regard.
Life insurance: There are a broad range of policies available and it really comes down to what you can afford and what you wish to achieve. You may wish to consider cover that pays during prolonged periods of illness or simply a policy that cover the expense of a funeral. It doesn’t have to be a complex or daunting process. Having life insurance in place affords you piece of mind that your loved ones will not be financially troubled if illness or death occur.
Last Will and Testament: Ensuring that you have a will is also a source of peace of mind. It ensures that your assets and property are smoothly transferred to those you choose and that your funeral arrangements are clear in advance. For most people it does not have to be a complex process and often a simple standard document will suffice. The absence of such a provision can lead to additional administrative and legal issues at a time when they are least needed.
Living Wills and Care Plans: I wrote in my previous post about DNR notices and again would like to highlight the importance of discussing in advance the long term wishes of the person you care for. Clear and honest communication are paramount, and it is counterproductive to shy away from such issues because it makes you feel awkward or sad. Everyone has their own unique view on what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to the quality of their own life. Therefore, it is practical to consider and plan for certain eventualities, regardless of whether they are imminent or not.
Another matter it is wise to consider in advance is the general increase in household expenditure that can occur as a result of getting old and infirm. Carers, medical supplies, house alterations and minor changes to one’s lifestyle all contribute to increased monthly spending. In the UK, there are benefits and allowances available to help with such costs, but they are often means tested. Sometimes families prefer to take control of such services themselves and make their own financial arrangements. In my father’s case, not only does he choose to employ a very specific care company to assist him twice a day, he also spends additional funds on disposable items such as batteries, kitchen towel and incontinence pants. All of which have a cost that adds to the monthly budget. Furthermore, my parent’s household produces a lot more domestic waste than the average home. They quickly found that the standard refuse bin was not adequate for their needs, so we had to apply for an additional one from the local authority.
Modern day life is very much focused on living in the moment. As a result, long term decisions are often overlooked or simply ignored. When you’re twenty-five or thirty, seventy is an abstraction and not something that you necessarily concern yourself with. Furthermore, those who are not in the highest paid jobs do not always have the luxury of saving or spending on long term schemes such as insurance policies. There are more pressing needs to deal and the future may not be one of them. However, it is folly to ignore the inevitable and addressing just some of these issues now is better than ignoring them completely. The internet can often shed light on schemes and payment plans that you may not know about. In fact, it is an area of some considerable growth. There are also a wealth of charities and trusts that can help you if you find yourself in a difficult position. Therefore, once again I would urge readers to look to their future and not to be caught out at a time when you least need additional problems and concerns.