Elaine Cartier and Sharon Wilcox

Hospice Administrator Elaine Cartier and Social Worker Sharon Wilcox stand together with an advance planning guide. Wilcox likes to say, “Think, think, think. Talk to your family, they can’t guess your wishes. Don’t wait.” (Courtesy photo)

FRANKLIN — The first four parts of the Preparing to Age series introduced topics to consider. Here, they will be reviewed, with a few final thoughts.

First, think about what the future should look like. If staying at home while aging is a priority, take steps now to ensure it remains a possibility. First, develop advance directives, a set of guidelines that allow someone to approve or decline certain medical care at end-of-life, called a Living Will, or guidelines that will help a trusted loved one to make healthcare decisions if someone is unable to make those decisions for his or herself, called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. AARP has a clear set of forms, available by visiting www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/relationships/caregiving/2015/ad/New-Hampshire-advance-directives-updated-2014-aarp.pdf. Durable Power of Attorney should be someone trusted, who will be willing to take responsibility for healthcare decisions. Advance directives are the roadmap for the DPOA.

Next, think about Hospice. Hospice is a specialized type of care for those facing a life-limiting illness and supports the individual as well as their family and loved ones. Hospice may not be needed for many years, but should be included in advance directives if faced with a life-limiting illness.

Now, make sure to be connected with the resources needed, like ServiceLink to help with Medicare plans, a primary care provider to manage chronic illness, and a will or estate planner to make sure there are no financial pitfalls.

Next, take a close look around the house. Keep safety in mind when considering how moving around, cooking, and personal care will be affected while aging. If there is anything that makes doing those things difficult, make a plan to change them. A visit from a physical or occupational therapist for a home safety evaluation is one way to identify some of these issues, as they are trained to offer solutions for mobility and comfort. Interested people should speak with a health care provider to see if they qualify and get a referral. For those who do qualify, an assessment could be available through a visiting nurse association such as Franklin VNA & Hospice.

Lastly, call a meeting. Gathering family and caregiver supports together in one place helps everyone have the same information about what someone wants as they age, so there's less chance of confusion later on.

For more information, call Franklin VNA & Hospice at 603-934-3454, or visit www.FranklinVNA.org.

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