Long term care planning unlike other action items, includes planning for the worst case scenario and preparing for end of life. Although this may seem far off, being proactive and discussing the possibilities that you may face in the future is a positive step in avoiding a crisis later. This may include a change in your living arrangement. Does your home allow living on one floor in the event balance is a problem:? Do you live alone? Do you have the support and resources to live at home if you need additional help?
Some people decide to make changes early further simplifying life and making decisions on a positive note before it is needed rather than a negative reaction to a crisis or being told they ‘had to for their own safety’ by others. Others have decided to live closer to metropolitan areas to reduce distance driving and have access to more readily available services and activities. Moving may not be desirable or practical, but talking through these issues before there is a problem gives you and your family time to think about the best solution. When and if you will need more advanced care is unknown. Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive condition so there is time to prepare and in most cases you will have a decade or more to prepare for the unknown. Making decisions under more urgent conditions is much more stressful.
Alternative Living Options
- Home Assistance
- Adult Family Care
- Assisted Living
- Skilled Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility
- Nursing Home
Health and Life Care Documents
Getting your health related documents in order is another aspect in long term care planning. Talk with your partner or family member about your wishes at end of life so these wishes will be known. The Family Caregiver Alliance offers additional information and guidance on these topics at www.caregiver.org. There are simple tasks that once completed, are there when you need them.. The following documents are typically included in long term health care planning:
- Durable Power of Attorney- Legal document allowing you to give a person the authority to make financial and legal decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated and not able to do so.
- Health Care Proxy- Legal document designating a person that will have the right to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated by illness or accident and not able to do so for yourself.
- Advanced Care Directive- A document prepared in advance, giving specific instructions about your healthcare wishes in the event that you are unable to do so and at end of life.
(Source: Modified from Alter Your Course. Newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease by Sierra Farris, PAC and Monique Giroux, MD)
Monique L. Giroux, MD
Guest Blogger, Former Medical Director of NWPF