Once a person gets closer to their senior years, more issues become apparent, and more help is needed. There are five stages of aging; resources are available for each phase. When a person starts to decline, they hide their problems. Plus, asking for help can be difficult, especially for an independent, strong-willed person, so keep an eye on them. Now we can learn about these resources.
Stage 1: Self-sufficiency
Stage one is where people can handle their daily lives. It’s the perfect time to plan for the future by setting things up. The first job is to evaluate finances. Should they be working with a Financial Advisor, hiring a bookkeeper or tax specialist, or speaking with a life insurance agent or broker about insurance policies to put in place to protect or help them financially? The second step is evaluating the necessary legal documents or if they should consult an estate planning attorney. The final step is end-of-life planning. Do they want to pre-plan their funeral arrangements, and what does that entail?
Stage 2: Interdependence
Stage two involves some help. Family and friends should determine the aging loved one’s medical and living situation. For example, do they need durable medical equipment (DME) such as a walker? Should the home be modified by adding grab bars? Should a Geriatric Care Specialist or social worker evaluate the living situation and make recommendations (stay home or senior housing)? In addition, has a person been diagnosed with a medical condition (i.e., depression, diabetes, heart condition)? Should they consult a therapist, nutritionist, or dietician because of the diagnosis? Again, addressing the person’s financial situation and resources needed.
Stage 3: Dependence
Care is brought in at this phase. Usually, people need help with their Activities of Daily Living or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). Again, everyone needs to evaluate the resources the aging person needs. For example, should a bookkeeper or fiduciary be hired? Is a reverse mortgage a good idea for them? Then there are the housing and care decisions, which include stay home, or research senior housing options? Should a social worker, geriatric care coordinator, or caregiver come in to help if they stay home?
If they are moving, evaluate downsizing options. First, need to determine how to downsize. Can family or friends help or hire a professional organizer? In addition, decisions on unwanted items, consignment, estate sales, donations, trash, recycling, hazardous waste, plus more. With all these questions come follow-up questions like, which non-profits to donate to? Can you recognize how to properly dispose of trash versus recycling versus household hazardous waste? Do you need to hire a hauler? If you sell a house, you must look for a realtor. Through this process, it’s essential to know about the various services, non-profits, and government agencies that can be a resource or offer help.
Stage 4: Crisis management
Stage four is round-the-clock care. Family and friends must assemble a team to assist a person. People weigh a delicate balance of finances versus medical and non-medical needs and legal roles. Do they have a Power of Attorney or Healthcare Advocate? Are they receiving home health or palliative care? Do they have a caregiver or private duty nurse? Once again, looking at finances and determining their living situation, stay and add care or move into a higher level care facility.
Stage 5: End-of-life
All life-saving medical treatments have stopped at the patient’s request, or the doctor feels the patient has plateaued. At this point, a doctor may refer the person to hospice. Meanwhile, family and friends are grieving yet dealing with the financial, legal, and eventually downsizing aspects. Again, professionals are available to help.
There are many STAGES to the aging process and many resources to help. During all these phases, there are options, and you can always change companies at any time if you are not happy with the service. You do not have to take on the burden yourself; let STAGES be your starting point.