ML Burke and Associates

8 Steps to Making Your Future-Life-Plan

Depending on your situation, choosing to live out your final years in your own home or a residential care facility is probably the most important decision you will make for yourself in your senior years.  There are pros and cons to both which is why making a plan is so important for families to make realistic choices. 

In a perfect world we would simply stay at home with our family around to help occasionally.  Someone could come in to clean the house or cook a few meals periodically.  We would eventually slip away in our sleep and that would be that. 

This is not entirely a fantasy.  If you have a lot money and can pay people you may be able to exit the world in this manner.  Or you may think your children will look after you.  Or you may think you are quite capable of looking after yourself.  Or, like many, you may not like to think about it at all.  The problem is that we are all going to die someday and it may take a while because we are living longer.  As we slowly become more frail we become less able to make a plan, much less carry it out.  Don't wait. Do it now! Follow these steps.

Making a Future-Life-Plan:

  1. Understand what BC's residential care system can offer you today (not 20 years ago) or are you better off staying in your home with help services.  Do not assume your children will be able to care for you as your care needs increase.  They have lives and families to look after too.
  2. Determine who you want to advocate for you should you lose your health.  This could be one or two people you trust with all decisions regarding your health care, finances and property.  Legal agreements need to be signed and in place (Will, Living Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, DNR Order, etc.) while you are still of sound mind.
  3. Have the conversation with your chosen advocats and family members as to what your wishes are and ask for their input, help and suggestions for making your plan. 
  4. Determine your eligibility for health services by getting assessed by a case manager with your local health authority office.  This can start with home services and include going onto a wait-list for Assisted Living or Complex Care in the publicly funded system, or a private care home if affordable.
  5. Understand financial subsidies and opportunities available to seniors with low-moderate incomes and also to those who are property-rich but cash-poor.
  6. If you decide to stay at home or go into a care home, you will need to either adapt your home to change as your health changes; or to start preparing to move into a smaller space and begin to dispose of your belongings, furniture and other things you cannot take with you.
  7. Write down your inventory of important documents, accounts, bills, stocks, bonds, wills, etc., where to find them and the contact names & numbers of stock brokers, banks, RRSPs, Pensions, Doctors, Lawyers, Religious leaders, Insurance Brokers, etc.  This will save your executor a LOT of work later and they will be forever grateful that you made this plan.
  8. And finally, take this list and start on one of these points today.  While you are working through this list and making your future-life-plan, stay as active and engaged as possible.  Check out your local seniors centre.  Isolation and depression are both causes of dementia and other serious illnesses. Try to do one thing on this list every day as time is passing.  As the saying goes, "Old age just snuck up on me and I didn't notice until it was too late".