The holiday season is a time for traditions, memories, and visiting family from near and far. Holiday get-togethers present a perfect opportunity to check in on the condition of an aging relative (link: https://www.gpscolumbus.com/is-your-loved-one-safely-aging-in-place/), catch up over a meal, and of course for gift giving.
The best kind of gift you can give to your family is not wrapped in sparkling paper or fancy bows. But it’s the kind of gift that offers clarity, relief and peace of mind.
Most people don’t like to think about how they would manage in the event of a health care emergency, but they assume that insurance and Medicare would cover the costs and their spouse would handle the important decisions. And while this may be true to a certain extent, the reality is that most people aren’t emotionally or financially prepared for a health care crisis. Therefore, it’s important that families take the necessary safety precautions to prevent an emergency, have a plan for care, and understand who will support them if an emergency does occur.
Guided Patient Services encourages you to give your family a unique type of gift this holiday season — give them the gift of planning.
Here are three ways you can prepare your gift:
1. Take necessary measures to keep your home safe.
Everyone hopes to live out their lives in the comforts of their own home. Your home must be able to meet your needs now, and also provide a safe environment for you when or if those needs change.
There are things you can do to make your home a safe place (http://www.healthinaging.org/resources/resource:home-safety-tips-for-older-adults/):
- Wear non-slip footwear when walking on smooth floors
- Use a cane or walker instead of holding onto furniture
- Keep the hallways and stairs free from clutter such as books and shoes that could cause tripping and falls
- Install grab bars in the shower
- Place rubber mats on the tub floor to prevent slipping
- Replace your smoke detector’s batteries twice a year
AARP offers a “HomeFit Guide” (https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/info-2014/aarp-home-fit-guide-aging-in-place.html), which contains lessons, suggestions and practical solutions to turning your home into a “lifelong home.” The guide is a resource of simple do-it-yourself fixes as well as more involved projects that require hiring a skilled professional. These measures may take some time or even a bit of expense, but planning ahead will give you the best chance at staying in your home for as long as possible.
2. Research nursing homes and funeral homes.
It can be unpleasant to think about planning your own funeral or spending time in a nursing home, but knowing your options and having a plan will save stress and confusion for you and your family should the need arise.
Take a tour of a few assisted living or nursing centers in your area. Make a list of the ones you feel comfortable with or feel you could trust if you need care down the road. If you are not ready to preplan your funeral, you could at least inquire about the process, cost, and add a particular funeral home to your list of possible providers. Making a personal connection will help you feel more at ease, and will give your family a guide to work from if they need it.
3. Plan for a Healthcare Crisis
If you are faced with a healthcare crisis, you or a family member will have to make important decisions pretty quickly. You may want to consider consulting with a patient advocate, such as Guided Patient Services. Patient advocates make sense of all of the medical jargon, manage your appointments and tests, and coordinate your care when you have multiple providers. We step in when things get overwhelming, and help you understand your medical situation so you can make the choices that are best for you.
Plan for the Unexpected
Prevention and making important decisions before they happen are truly priceless gifts you can give your family this holiday season. So prepare your gift now and enjoy the upcoming holidays knowing you have one of the most important plans of your life in place — and a gift that will be appreciated and valued if it’s ever needed.
If you have questions about how a patient advocate can help you through this planning process, please contact Guided Patient Services at any time (link: https://www.gpscolumbus.com/contact/). We are here for you when or if you need us.