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The need for long term care can last for years. This is true even for residents of nursing homes, the most expensive level of long-term care. According to one study, most nursing home patients will be there for at least a year. In fact, almost 25% will remain patients for more than three years.

Given this, it is cruelly ironic that the need for long term care too often arises suddenly. The lifestyle and independence to which seniors are accustomed can be changed forever without advance notice.

A stroke or a fall are two common ways in which long term needs arise suddenly. The CDC confirms that strokes are a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Seniors make up almost two-thirds of those hospitalized for a stroke.

Also, one third of seniors will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors, and often lead to a new series of health issues. By age 75, a fall is four times more likely to result in admittance to a skilled nursing facility.

While prevention is always the most important approach, the reality is that strokes and traumatic falls will happen. A few basic steps, taken early enough, can significantly lighten the burden for caregivers and ensure the wishes of seniors are respected.

  1. Have a Living Will.  A Living Will allows you to dictate what medical assistance, if any, is to be provided in end-of-life circumstances. Do not leave this critical decision to your family to make.
  2. Have a Power of Attorney. This document allows a trusted individual to manage your affairs (i.e., financial) if you cannot.
  3. Have a Plan for You and Your Caregiver. An appropriate estate plan should address more than what happens at your passing.  It should also address what happens if you become incapacitated.

You have the opportunity now to address the critical issues that should be part of every estate plan. Take advantage of that opportunity and come to a free presentation to find out the options available to you.