1. Have an ongoing conversation with your loved ones about your wishes for care as you grow older. Over time, if your attitude is relaxed, these discussions can become as natural as talking about taking a vacation. Discuss the best case scenario as well as a second choice. Never make your family promise not to put you in a nursing home. That is unfair. No one can know the future.
2. Make certain that you’ve assigned a Power Of Attorney for Health Care with the understanding that this is an evolving document. Our attitudes about what we’d like under certain conditions can change with age. Keep your assigned POA and others in the family updated on any changes that you make.
3. Assign a Power Of Attorney for financial decisions, as well. The person assigned as POA for finances doesn’t have to be the same as the person that you choose for health care. Also, of course, a Will should be drawn up. If you expect that there may be issues about certain belongings, assign potential ownership early and explain your reasoning so that there is no doubt later on.
4. If possible, choose housing in or near a community with a good healthcare provider, including a hospital that you trust.
5. Consider housing options that can be converted for comfortable living should someone develop mobility issues. Wide hallways that can accommodate walkers and wheelchairs are a plus.
6. If remodeling, put in lever door handles rather than knobs and easy to open cabinet pulls. Attractive shower bars and even grab bars by the toilet are now available in decorator colors and non-clinical designs. At the very least, while you look for new housing or plan remodeling, be aware that you may want to make changes in the future so try to allow for flexibility.
7. When you replace appliances, choose those that have easily readable numbers and obvious alerts for when burners or oven are on.Aging eyes can make reading stove controls difficult. Related to that is good lighting everywhere. When decorating, look for lamps and tract lighting that can accommodate bright wattage. Lighting becomes far more important as we age.
8. Furniture should be comfortable with fairly high, firm seating. This doesn’t mean function over beauty, but keep it in mind when buying your couches and chairs.
9. Vehicles that are to be kept long-term should be moderately high off the ground as low seating can be difficult to get out of when aging joints begin to complain. On the opposite side, avoid anything that is too high unless you want to carry a portable step with you.
10. Tell your family and others often that you love them. Try to mend broken relationships. Agree to disagree but show that you care. None of us know how much time we’ll have for these important matters.