Aging seniors: Make decisions before someone makes them for you
During retirement or before, you probably did all the financial planning along with the legal paperwork. Have you also thought about personal choices as you age and the options ahead? If a personal plan isn’t made now, you might regret it when other people are making choices for you.
Here are some of your choices:
Where are you going to live?
Not moving earlier in your life to where you really want to be could stop you from moving there at a later date.
Do you want to stay in the area in which you have friends and social and religious circles that include a country club, church or charitable organizations that you have been with for a long time?
Do you want to move close to your family and expect that you will be with your relatives frequently, as when you are visiting on vacation? Another scenario is the family continues with their regular routines of work and school and activities and have little time to spend with you. In this case, you’ll have to build a circle of friends and networks.
Recreational preferences or agreeable climate and community should also come into play. If you loved visiting Hawaii, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas or Oregon, you might decide that you want to move to one of those places for those reasons or the low cost of living. If you have more time for your hobbies and interests, you might have an opportunity to live closer to where you can fulfill those interests.
There are other issues to consider in another state, including income, sales, inheritance and property taxes.
What living space you occupy or who you live with are serious decisions to ponder before moving. If you prefer to live in your own home as you age, that comes with questions and decisions. For instance, is the house in good physical condition or does it need work to make it safe for you as you age?
Does your home have a second floor that may not be practical if can’t manage the stairs? Is your house too big for one person? Is it in a good, safe area? Do you have enough assets to support the house while you live there? Are you going to do the maintenance on the house and yard or are you going to hire help?
If you are living with someone and that person moves out or dies, are you going to be comfortable alone? If you can’t or don’t want to live by yourself, check out other housing options in the area to find something that would feel comfortable, such as senior living or assisted care facilities. You can visit and also spend some time there eating meals and participating in activities.
Seniors want the decision to stop driving to be one they make. They feel a loss of independence when they can no longer drive. How do you feel about that? Do you want to make your own decision on when to stop driving? If so, what are the criteria? California has a driver skills self-assessment questionnaire included in its DMV Senior Guide for Safe Driving.
You can start there or take a refresher driving course. However, if you decide that to give up your license, staying isolated at home isn’t your only option. There are other choices such as bus, taxis, Uber, Lyft and GoGo Grandparent that will get you around town. Some senior services will drive you places, shop for you and even order meals and deliver them.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s hard for seniors to accept they are not self-reliant anymore. Struggling with daily life as we age can lead to depression and isolation. As seniors get less mobile, they have choices to think about. Review your finances and determine if you will need additional resources.
You might consider adult day care, home health care, local government and charitable programs that help seniors, and community centers that offer socialization, meals, and activities.
Pre-Need arrangements: Plan your own funeral and pay for it now. You can choose burial or cremation and spend as much as you want.
Hire a professional: If you don’t have a family member or a friend that you want to make your decisions for you, or feel that they would not be able to do so, then hire a professional fiduciary. They would step in when you need them. They normally charge by the hour. Sometimes, they become the neutral party between fighting family members.
Make sure you put all of your decisions in writing and communicate them to family and friends so they know your decisions. Make an appointment with your attorney to go over the decisions you made and make sure that they’re compatible with your estate planning documents.
Look into the future for what life might look like and start making changes now. You can take responsibility for your decisions that are really yours to make. If you wait and do nothing, it can be a crisis that makes those decisions for you. You might regret your lack of making a plan for your life and the decisions may be taken out of your hands.
By MARCIA CAMPBELL | Contributing columnist with THE PRESS ENTERPRISE
PUBLISHED: August 31, 2019
Marcia L. Campbell has worked as a CPA for over 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court accountings, and probate litigation support. You can reach her at Marcia@MCampbellCPA.com