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This National Long-Term Care Awareness month, make the decision to be proactive about future planning.

November is National Long-Term Care Awareness month! Here are our top five tips for anyone considering a long-term care placement:

(1) Estate planning is important. Documents such as a Living Wills (a/k/a Healthcare Directives or Advance Directives) and Powers of Attorney each appoint surrogate decision makers for financial and medical decisions in the event you can no longer make decisions for yourself. These documents are so important for anyone over the age of eighteen!

(2) Become an organization guru. When applying for government benefits such as Medicaid, it is so helpful to be organized. Make sure to maintain records of financial statements, large expenditures, and income fluctuations as Medicaid has a five-year lookback that requires an applicant to produce records dating as far back as… you guessed it – five years!

(3) Don’t be afraid to have tough (but honest) discussions with family members and friends. No one enjoys discussing topics such as sickness and death, however, there is a way to approach these topics that will leave our loved ones feeling empowered. Make your wishes known to the people you entrust as your agents in your estate planning documents (see #1 above). This will make you feel better and will take some pressure off of your agents in the event they need to make tough decisions later on.

(4) Tour facilities while you are able-bodied. Long-term care facilities are eager to get potential new clients through their doors. Make it a point to visit some local long-term care facilities, prepared with questions, to get an idea of the good, the bad and the ugly!

(5) Hire professionals, if practicable. Hiring a small but mighty team of professionals such as a geriatric care manager, geriatrician (doctor who specializes in senior medicine) and elder law attorney may cost more up-front, but the potential for long-term savings is significant when you are guided in the right direction. Whether it’s navigating the Medicare maze, funding long-term care at home or in a facility, or simply finding the “right” facility, a team of experts will make your life easier.