Part one of a mini-series discussing end of life care and treatment options.  Have any related insights or stories? Share them with us in the comment section!

Are you a planner?  Did you have your dream house mapped out at the age of 11, know the names of your future children before you’d even met your spouse or called in your Valentine’s dinner reservations the previous August?  If you are one of those individuals who are able to think and plan far ahead, good for you!  If you are not used to thinking beyond the ends of your fingertips, welcome to the club.

There are some decided advantages to planning ahead: the chance to research your options and change your mind, cheaper plane tickets, choice concert seats…after all, the early bird catches the worm!  But really, what’s so wrong with procrastinating on some of these decisions?  Maybe you end up seeing a movie that wasn’t your first choice or you improvise a candlelight pizza dinner when all the good restaurants are booked.  Not so bad, right? Well not when the only repercussions seem to be new experiences and a little spontaneity.  What if the result of poor planning was actually a lack of these spontaneous and new experiences?

Regardless of whether thinking ahead comes natural to you or not, everyone should consider the way that they want to live out the last years of their lives.  Life expectancy is on the rise, which means that so is associated end of life health care costs.  It also means that our senior years are now lasting longer and the decisions we make for our care are more lasting.  Now, more than ever, end of life care and plans are so important.

Maybe now you’re thinking, “But if we have all this time in our senior years, why can’t we just make our decisions at that point?”  While that may seem like sound logic, the descent into antiquity is not always graceful or slow.  An accident or a mind-deteriorating illness like Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s or even just the normal effects of aging can make those decisions more stressful, confusing and complicated than they would be otherwise.  If the choices have already been settled before the emergency, there’s much less hassle; it’s far easier to follow a plan you’ve already agreed to than it is to come up with a new plan on the fly.

Making decisions about your life care and death choices while you still have many healthy years to look forward to allows the time and opportunity for you to change your mind or make additional plans.  Just like that early bird who got the worm, the prompt decision maker in this scenario gets first dibs on retirement communities, healthcare facilities, therapies and group activities.

Coming soon – Life Care Plans Part Two:  what are the options and how do we make our wishes known?

 

~Laura