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Planning is the key to ensuring adequate long term care

Advancing age forces most people to think about their long-term care needs. Where will they live? How will they obtain health care? Who will get their assets when they die?

While natural anxiety inhibits many people from attending to these matters, most eldercare professionals insist that careful advanced planning is the key to ensuring adequate long term care.

Moreover, planning for long term care should be addressed while people are young enough to find, absorb and act upon the pertinent information. Planning for life after 70 is not much use if it takes place when a person is 69.

Perhaps the first rule of long term care planning is consultation with various professionals. A financial planner can provide useful advice on the best use of a person's savings and investments. An attorney can ensure that any necessary documents are properly drafted and comply with state law, including a power of attorney, a will, a health power of attorney and a special needs trust. A health care professional can provide advice on whether in-home health care will be required.

Choosing a living situation is perhaps the most important area for planning. A person's physical condition, including mobility, dietary needs and health care will often dictate the kind of institution that best suits the person's needs. In making this choice, the advice of a financial planner, an attorney and a health care provider will all be important sources of information. One mistake many people make is assuming that Medicare will pay for long care; it does not. Medicaid may pay for long term care in certain instances, but this program is administered by the state of Georgia, and the state decides what situations will be covered.

In making these plans, persons should strive for adequacy, not perfection. Situations may change, such as when a person experiences a health emergency. The prior planning efforts may not apply to significantly changed circumstances, but the research behind the planning can provide useful information about any changes to a person's plans.

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