There’s no time like the present to get your affairs in order
By Erin Thorburn
The Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” is good advice for all stages of life, but it takes on greater import as we grow older.
Getting one’s affairs in order sooner rather than later can ensure your end-of-life wishes are followed and relieve your loved ones from having to make difficult legal, financial, medical or ethical decisions.
LiveWell magazine sat down with Senior Care Organizer author, registered nurse and senior care consultant Claudia Rumwell to get her ideas on how to best prepare for the later stages of life.
What’s the best way to put your affairs in order?
CR: It’s different for everyone. Close-knit families often get through this process on their own. The forms aren’t difficult, but the key is allowing enough time to go through the questions and understand the information. Seniors who may not have any family to rely on could attend an educational presentation about advance directives or discuss it with a close friend or primary care doctor.
What are the biggest mistakes people make in planning?
CR: The biggest mistake is to put it off. I often hear, “I don’t need it yet.” Another mistake is not taking enough time to find someone willing to be your health representative and follow your directive’s wishes. Advance directives aren’t just for the one filling it out; they’re also for family or friends so they know what to do if their loved one is very ill, dying and/or unable to speak for themselves.
What is the ideal age to start putting plans in place?
CR: The age you are today. I have found that those caring for or assisting seniors in their 70s or older should start thinking about the importance of having a plan in place for themself, not just for their loved one.
The future is not guaranteed. If you don’t have a plan, that’s when you need one.
Is it necessary to consult attorneys, health care providers, estate planners or other professionals?
CR: Although they can assist, it isn’t mandatory. Senior care professionals such as a geriatric care manager, social worker or a nurse senior-care consultant can be helpful. It’s also important to recognize that the advance directives forms involved are state-specific. Arizona’s forms may be found at: azag.gov/seniors/life-care-planning.
What other actions do you recommend?
CR: In addition to advance directives, it’s important to have a durable Power of Attorney (PoA) for finances and medical issues. A good start is to have copies of the completed directives and PoA documents, along with other information such as emergency contacts, personal info, medical conditions, surgical history and medications as part of a “personal information notebook.” Organizing today will help you plan for tomorrow.
Claudia Rumwell will present “Senior Care Prep 101:
Getting Your Ducks in a Row,” 1:30 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 23.