If you are a baby boomer nearing age 70, you may want to make some important decisions about your finances and future medical care decisions. No one likes to think about the possibility of losing control of the ability to make these decisions, but it’s important to plan ahead. When you are prepared, you can better ensure that your wishes are both understood and respected.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
“Make sure your finances are arranged and that you’re protected,” says geriatrician Ronan Factora, MD. “Studies have shown that people who have memory complaints later in life are more likely to get financially exploited.”
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in nine seniors reports being a victim of financial abuse. Cognitive impairment is one of the factors that make people more vulnerable.
Experts say the best prevention is an early conversation with your family. Most people have some form of cognitive effects as they age, and it’s best to be prepared. It’s especially common that people struggle with memory, especially short-term memory, and they can find it more difficult to multitask. Having a plan in place with loved ones ensures a better outcome.
Develop a health care plan
Dr. Factora says when you are developing a healthcare plan, it’s important to arrange for a healthcare power of attorney. If you are unable to speak for yourself, this person would act as your agent and communicate your wishes.
Also, you want to figure out what will happen if, at some point, you’re unable to live by yourself.
“Are you going to move in with family? Are you going to move to another facility? The important thing is to decide where you would prefer to go and it’s better to be involved in those decisions now, while your cognition is still intact,” he says.
Other important steps to prepare
It’s also important to get into some of the financial and legal details with your loved one, someone you trust to act in your behalf. You and this person should:
- Review your estate plan. This is important to do so that your assets are distributed to the people or charities that you select. Be sure you have a will, and it may also make sense to have a trust.
- Walk through your overall finances and insurance policies. It’s important to share where your accounts reside, including banks, investments and mortgages. Be sure your family member has information about your life insurances, medical insurance and long-term care policies.
- Create and share an inventory of all your regular monthly bills. This way, if it becomes necessary, your family member ensure that all your bills are paid.
- Share a list of your professional advisors. Create a list and include contact information for any doctors, investment advisors, attorneys and insurance agents you work with. You may also want to take your family member with you to appointments with these trusted advisors.
Experts say it’s a much healthier process when you plan; people feel better when they are involved in the decision-making rather than ending up in a place that does not satisfy their needs.