When creating an estate plan, people tend to dwell more on how they will allocate their financial assets, and to think less about how they may have to finance costly medical procedures and even long-term care in their golden years.
But existing health problems and chronic conditions often get worse the older we get. Diseases and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or hypertension can contribute to stroke, heart attacks or disability. Planning for the future for seniors must also include serious healthcare decisions that they or a loved one may have to make.
Advance care planning is not just having advance directives such as a living will or a medical power of attorney, called a health care proxy in New York. It also involves a candid assessment of current health conditions and a reflection on what kind of future care you or a loved one wishes to have in the event of a health crisis.
Although putting those wishes in writing through an advance directive is ideal, even a dated letter to one’s family doctor can help later on. It is important also to continue assessing and modifying the plan, depending on new or evolving health conditions.
Planning for the last stages in life is not simply planning out the last moments. If the elderly person has a progressive chronic condition such as dementia, rheumatoid arthritis or a heart condition, it is important to find out what to expect as these chronic conditions develop over a period of years.
Having candid conversations with the elderly person’s doctors will help both your and their understanding of how quality of life will be affected by these conditions. The individual may not wish to have treatments or procedures done if it means suffering, incapacity or loss of function will result. Spending months in a hospital or in hospice may not be the kind of care that an elderly person would wish for.
Prior advance care planning can significantly reduce stress that the elderly and their families experience. A compassionate and experienced elder law attorney in Nassau County can assist with the preparation of advance directives as well as other estate planning documents that are an important part of planning for our next stages in life.