What about planning for aging? To plan for aging, most people have a financial plan on how they will pay their bills. Thats an important start. In addition, each older adult should also put together what we call an Aging Preparedness Kit. Were not talking about batteries or candles. Were talking about tools that can help a person (even an unlucky one) have better control of the future, and obtain results they want.

Your Aging Preparedness Kit should contain the six items we list below.

#1 A Power of Attorney for Health Care. In this legal document, you name trusted family members or friends to take charge of your medical care if you become incapacitated and cant remain in charge. Who should you name? The best person is a person you can communicate with and who

  • Will be available when needed,
  • Will be able to ask questions and get good answers from medical professionals,
  • Will make the medical care decisions that you would make (whether or not they agree with you), and
  • Will be able to stand up for you, be your advocate, and deal with others who disagree with what you want

Good forms are easy to find. The California Medical Association’s version is readily available from the CMA and many hospitals and doctors. H.E.L.P. also can provide to you a simplified form.

#2 Communication With Your Helpers. The people you name in your Power of Attorney for Health Care need to know what you want and care about, so theyll know what to do for you. You need to think about and communicate what you want, and whats important to you. You can do this by just talking, or by writing your thoughts down in your Power of Attorney for Health Care or in another document. A good way is to use our free Your Way guide.

#3 A Power of Attorney for Financial Matters. This is a separate legal document, where you name trusted family members or friends, but this time to help deal with financial matters if you become incapacitated. Who should you name? The person should have good financial skills and, most importantly, should be a person you can trust to manage your finances for your benefit (not theirs). Good forms are not easy to find, see a qualified attorney for this important document.

#4 An Estate Plan. This is the way you spell out what will happen to your assets when you die. The approaches can involve a will, beneficiary naming, joint ownerships, trusts, and other tools. This is also where you plan to minimize or avoid the impact of estate and gift taxes.

#5 A Plan for Long-Term Care. In creating this plan, you answer the questions: If I need care, where do I want to receive it? Who will provide the care? How will I pay for it (savings, insurance, government help)? In doing this planning, you look at whether your home is safe, or can be made safe, for you. You also consider the question of moving to a retirement community or assisted living setting. You also need to consider your potential care-providers (family members, friends, paid helpers) — what arrangements will work, and for how long? Look at the cost of care, your monthly income and your savings. Get a good understanding of the help the government will give and will not give. Learn more about long-term care insurance, and decide whether it makes sense for you.

#6 A Plan for Your Funeral and Burial. You create this plan so that, when you die, your family and friends will know what you want to happen. So that you get what you want, even at the end. Were not suggesting that you need to prepay for your arrangements, just clearly communicate your wishes.

Remember: In aging, planning ahead can help minimize the consequences.

We have several free and low-cost ways we can help you create your Aging Preparedness Kit:

  • Our public classes (see our class schedule)
  • Our private consultation service
  • Our publications (see our ordering page for a partial listing)

What about planning for aging? To plan for aging, most people have a financial plan on how they will pay their bills. Thats an important start. In addition, each older adult should also put together what we call an Aging Preparedness Kit. Were not talking about batteries or candles. Were talking about tools that can help a person (even an unlucky one) have better control of the future, and obtain results they want.