It may sound like common sense, but the older you are the longer you’re going to live. According to the Social Security Administration, men who reach age 65 can expect to live until age 84 and women who reach age 65 can expect to live until nearly 87. People are living longer lives and many Americans are living twenty years beyond their retirement. This increased longevity forces many people to change the way they view their later years.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly seventy percent of people turning age 65 can expect to require some form of long-term care during their lives. Not only is the chance of needing long-term care high, many people are requiring care for a longer duration. This increased benefit duration affects women more than men. Women tend to need 3.7 years of care, on average, while men require only 2.2 years. Almost twenty percent of seniors will need care for more than five years.
Planning for Care
With many people requiring long-term care for years and the cost of healthcare increasing, having a plan in place is vital. Advanced Healthcare Directives are estate planning documents in which you are able to make your healthcare wishes known as well as designate an agent to make decisions regarding your medical care.
These documents can be as general or specific as you desire. While some people choose to simply name an agent and leave all medical and end of life decisions up to that person, others have specific levels of care in mind. This is the place to designate if you would prefer certain types of medical care, such as in-home nursing care or artificially elongated life.
Longevity also creates the issue of multigenerational care needs. People living in their 60’s are handling the care of their parents in their 80’s. So, what happens when that 60-year-old child passes away or becomes incapacitated in some way? Planning for the what-if’s in life, no matter how grim, can prevent others from having to make blind decisions on your behalf.
Making Your Wishes Known
The best way to ensure that your wishes are known is to communicate your desires to those who will be in control of your estate. By openly discussing your desires for long-term care or medical intervention, you not only increase the chances that your wishes will be fulfilled but you also remove stress and uncertainty from those responsible for making those decisions.