Ask an Angel: January 11, 2018

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. I am single, and have no children. I also was an only child, so I have no siblings or much family to speak of. As I enter the later years of life I know I must start paying attention to my future care. Do you have recommendations on what to have in place?

A. Many seniors are in your “demographic.” That is: never married, with no children, living alone, without close family ties. This status is referred to as an Elder Orphan. As someone in this life group, the responsibility to care for your needs rests solely on you. Areas to wisely consider include your overall health status, knowing your care options, which may include home care, community housing options, and long term care options. You should also have an understanding of health care insurance. Of course, all of these points should be considerations for all of us, but for your case, it is vital that you know your path and plan. As all of us age, our physical needs change. This means housing needs will change as well. If you don’t know what your housing options are in your area, I recommend you learn what is available. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but knowledge is power! Reach out to your local senior services organization and begin a conversation about your choices. Senior Services Associates is an area agency that can help you as you begin your research. You may want to investigate in-home care as a viable option as well. If you use the internet to begin your research, compile a list of questions you will use as a reference point once you narrow down your preferred vendors for your future. You know your learning style better than anyone, so if you need that “person to person” contact, reach out to Senior Services or a representative from a senior organization to ask questions. Senior Services has a wealth of information. Many seniors I have worked with keep a notebook and have a “file” they have put together with their preferred providers. Next, make sure you have a good understanding of your insurance. Medicare and supplemental plans may change, so keep abreast of those changes. If you have long term care insurance, talk with your agent so that you fully understand how your policy works. If you don’t have a trust with a designated power of attorney, make sure you talk to a trusted professional to put a plan in place. While you have indicated you don’t have close family, there may be someone in your life that you might want to share this vital information with. Today, more than ever, there are resources and options for our senior community. With a little time and effort, you can create a plan that will bring you comfort and take the mystery out of your future care.

Have a question for our angel correspondent? You can send our angel an email to apetersen@visitingangels.com or send your question via mail to Ask An Angel, 65 Woodbury St., South Elgin, IL 60177.

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