Looking into future care options for an elderly loved one is often approached from a negative perspective. However, planning for future care needs can be a surprisingly reassuring process. It’s something to be taken positively, as a safety net that you can put in place in the event that something was to happen. The key is to educate yourself and your loved one before that time comes.

While it might be a just-in-case scenario, finding a caregiver or caregiving community for your loved one shouldn’t be brushed aside. All too often, family members or older adults themselves hang back from exploring options in senior care, but this process is better investigated sooner rather than later.

The ideal time to explore these options is when your loved one is healthy. They shouldn’t take place after something concerning has happened.

Plan Just Like You’ve Planned for Other Life Events

Most people plan ahead for major life events, and the reason is simple: these events require planning to go well!

Oliver Hazan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the continuing care retirement community Cross Keys Village, points out that arranging care for loved ones before something alarming happens has benefits that go beyond even peace of mind:

“The services and the lifestyle that are available in a good retirement community can actually slow down the effects of aging on most residents. Proper nutrition, regular and enjoyable physical exercise, and stimulating social interaction will – so to speak – turn back the average senior’s odometer.”

Furthermore, Hazan says that families who wait until care is needed may unfortunately have fewer options:

“Many communities have a one-year or longer waiting period before the perfect apartment or cottage becomes available, and most villages also have a medical qualification process, requiring your doctor to sign off and vouch for a degree of wellbeing before you are approved to move into an apartment or a cottage. (This is for your protection, as no reputable village would knowingly set residents up to fail in their new surroundings due to mobility or memory impairment).”

Senior care, and the care for any loved one, is too important to be left to the last minute. No matter what form of care you’re looking at, be sure to ask questions and find out the parameters thoroughly before you need them.

Explore Options at Your Leisure

Because of the multiple options available in seeking care for your loved one, the more time one has to read about them and think through them, the better. Are you thinking of hiring an at-home caregiver several times a week? Full-time? Considering a CCRC?

Call around to find out which caregiving style or organizations meet the criteria. Then, it’s a good idea to meet with caregivers or their agencies, visit CCRCs and other care options and ask questions. Ask for brochures on their services and activities.

“Gathering information about senior living should a joyous occasion, full of anticipation,” says Hazan. “It ought to be done leisurely, over months if not years. Doing it in a rush, while stressed and possibly sleep-deprived after ‘something happens’ is not something I would wish on my parents or anyone else’s.”

Move From Worry to Enjoyment

Seeing the benefits of planned future care can make all the difference in your loved one’s life. The pleasures of an improved or new environment, combined with freedom from worry, can itself make an older adult feel more relaxed and able to focus on life’s small enjoyments.

Why wait for something bad to happen when you actionably plan for a better future?

Image by Jake Thacker

About Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a health journalist and blogger with a passion for helping others. In addition to The Caregiver Space, you can also find her on The Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha.

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