In today’s share-everything culture, final years planning might seem like the last taboo. In an effort to avoid the topic, seniors and their adult children often do not take the necessary steps to plan for their final years of life, which include getting financial affairs in order and creating plans for care in case of declining health.
In fact, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc. found that while 73 percent of seniors have a written will, only 13 percent have actually made arrangements for long-term care.
“When planning for their final years, many people go straight to making funeral arrangements and financial plans rather than taking time to prepare for care that might be necessary in the final years, months and days of life,” said Mahnaz Pourian of the Home Instead Senior Care® office serving Phoenix. “Unfortunately, many people do not consider that as we age, we need extra care. While the vast majority of seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too.”
According to AARP, 90 percent of seniors would prefer to spend their final years at home. Despite this fact, Home Instead, Inc. found that only 74 percent of seniors have shared their wishes with their adult children.
Dr. Julie Masters, chairperson of the department of gerontology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, explains that one barrier to planning is the discomfort the conversation brings to seniors and their adult children.
“Final years planning can bring up a host of emotions for seniors and their adult children. These conversations, while difficult, can help people feel more prepared and empowered. They can also deliver a sense of relief for families, who already have the legal documents in place, when the time comes to face those difficult decisions,” Masters said.
According to the Home Instead, Inc. survey, aging parents are far more comfortable discussing plans for their own final years (89 percent) than their own adult children are discussing their parents’ plans (68 percent).
To help start the conversation around final years planning, the Home Instead® network is introducing free resources to encourage seniors and their adult children to talk to one another about their plans, while also exploring options for end-of-life care, finances, insurance and funeral planning. The program also features the online “Compose Your Life Song” music generator, which can help families think about what steps to take to be better prepared for this journey. Completing the activity will result in a customized song that will reflect the user’s final years’ preparedness level.
Knowing plans are at least written, even in the absence of specific arrangements, creates emotional benefits of preparation, such as confidence and relief. Among adult children whose parents have written plans, knowing their parents have mapped out a plan makes them feel confident they are prepared for the future (48 percent), relieved that making these plans won’t be their sole responsibility (43 percent) and relieved to know their parents will have care when they need it (41percent), according to the Home Instead, Inc. survey.
“Our hope is that we can equip aging adults and their families with the tools they need to plan for what may come in the later years of life. We want families to enjoy their time together while also being able to provide loved ones with the care they need,” explains Pourian.
Families can find program resources and information at www.ComposeYourLifeSong.com. Or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for additional resources and to learn how their professional CAREGivers may be able to assist. Find an office near you by visiting www.homeinstead.com/arizona/.