When it comes to planning for the future, and what happens when the future arrives, it's our experience that the women of the family tend to be the most affected. Whether it's the squeaky wheel about finally getting that trust and long-term care plan into place, or the point person when it come to move Mom into assisted living, it's usually a wife or daughter-in-law. Now, this could be a loaded issue, and we're not trying to be sexist or point fingers. And we're not even going to approach WHY this is the case. This is our anecdotal evidence though, after years of practice: we talk to women.
So, let's just take that at face value and get into the meat: what women need to know about planning for the future.
- You will eventually take care of or manage the care of a loved one (or the loved one of a loved one, like your mother-in-law—kidding!). You probably won't get out of this. It will be one of your parents, your in-laws, an aunt or sibling. Or, if none of those come first, your spouse. Statistically, men just don't last as long as you ladies, you you'll probably be taking care of at least one as you both age.
- You can do something to make that day easier by planning now. Even if this seems like something in the far future, we can promise it's not as far off as you think. And you may be into it already and it's too late. But unless you're already there, you can help your loved ones plan (or nag them into it). Start the conversation, help them make an appointment with our office. Do something to move that train down the track.
- Plan for yourself NOW. Because the day is coming for you, too, and the best thing you can do to help those caring for you is to have a plan of your own in place. Don't repeat the same scenario again with your own children, help them take care of you.
- There is no right way to do it. From the plan itself, to implementation, to home care, assisted living, nursing homes, hospice—everything looks different for different people. If there was a magical "one way" of aging that worked for everyone, we'd trademark it and retire. But everyone has different situations, different levels of health, different wishes. So don't worry so much about doing it the "right way" and worry about doing it the "best way" for your family.
- Help is out there. Ask for it. Though the burden can often fall to you, it doesn't mean you're alone and you have to do it all on your own. From a helpful estate planning team (like us), to support groups, home health companies, care coordinators, and more, there are lots of resources out there. Lean on people, find experts. It's not worth losing your health, sanity, money, or both to try to take care of someone to say you did it yourself.
There you go, that should at least get you started. We hope you'll take some of this advice to get started so that when you're shouldered with the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one, you're up to the task.