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We much prefer to be in denial, to believe that “it will never happen to me.” But it will. To all of us. And sooner than we think.

We can be in denial. Or we can be ready. Plan ahead. Your health will change.

Even if a hospitalization is unexpected, we know it will happen someday. We can prepare. We can sign a HiPAA Medical Information Release, designating our eyes and ears: the people the doctors can talk to; the people who can see our medical records. We can sign a Medical Power of Attorney, appointing someone (with backups) to speak for us when we cannot communicate. This is important: half of people 65 and older enter the hospital unable to direct their own care.

Once in the hospital, we can work on a discharge plan. Where do we want to go? Who will take care of us? They may be well intentioned. Are they also ready, willing and able? What instructions do they need? Who will pay for it? Hopefully, we have signed a Durable [Financial] Power of Attorney or appointed a successor in a Revocable Living Trust Agreement.

Personal – and personalized – care is critical. How people feel about their illness is often more important than the illness itself.

We all want to stay in our own home as long as possible. How long can you afford to pay for a home caregiver? What would that person be like?

If you have to move, it may be better to move only once. Visit some places online. Then visit in person. Check out www.nursinghome411.org, www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare and https://projects.propublica.org/nursing-homes/.

We have all heard it said that an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What about installing grab bars in the bathroom now? Developing more mutually sustaining relationships?

Are you really too busy?


Estate planning attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.

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