Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stuff Will Happen

If we listen to all the messages about healthy living, healthy aging, never aging, etc., it's easy to assume that if we live a reasonably healthy life--eat well, exercise regularly, manage stress, keep our weight in check, not smoke, not drink too much--we'll sail actively through our 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. . . That we'll thrive all the way to immortality, or at least a greatly-deferred mortality.

Surprisingly, even if we do most things right, "stuff happens". Blame it on genetics, the environment, or just bad luck, life will sometimes stop us in our busy tracks. It's happened to me several times, even though I lead a healthy, active life.

I can watch my parents' generation soldiering through their 90s and say that I have at least 25 years before I need to worry about home care or other support systems of the very old. 

But the truth is that stuff can happen anytime, so I've been getting pro-active about creating a support structure for myself now.

For instance, last year I made some simple changes to my house so that if I need household or errand assistance, there's a separate suite to house a future aide. What's important to me is living with my dog and my garden, so I want to make sure I can stay at home to enjoy both.

And, in a few weeks I need outpatient surgery. To keep me safe at home afterwards, I called a local home assistance agency and arranged for an aide to stay with me for a few hours. Does that make me feel like an old lady? No, it makes me feel like a smart, realistic Boomer. And, once I've had this "trial run" with home assistance, it won't feel daunting to ask for it in the future.

The next item on my preparedness list is researching long term care Insurance. I'm so glad my parents had policies that helped them when they needed it most. By signing up now for my own policy, I'll be paying a lower premium and will have the peace of mind that if and when I need in-home or institutional help, it will be covered. 

On that note, I also know that getting payouts from long term care policies can be challenging. Thankfully, I've got an ally in Aspen Billing Advocates, a "client-centered medical billing advocacy service committed to reducing hospital and medical bills and maximizing health insurance coverage." 

None of us can age successfully alone. It truly does take a village. If you're surrounded by family with time and inclination to help, that's great. But if, like many Boomers, you're living on your own, you need to start assembling your own village now, while you can make the choices that are important to you.

Because "stuff happens."