Proactive, Not Reactive: Planning for the Future (Part One)

Proactive, Not Reactive: Planning for the Future (Part One)

When assisting your parent(s) or loved one in planning for the future, discussions are a must prior to the occurrence of sudden health changes. Understanding their wishes when these changes occur will give you peace of mind instead of trying to make decisions in the midst of the storm.

The first step in this process is to make sure all necessary documents are in place.  These documents cover financial as well as health care decisions.

Power of Attorney

Powers of Attorney for both financial and health care matters will designate the person who your loved one wishes to make decisions in these areas when they are no longer capable of this decision making process. Please note: without these documents in hand, the proxy will NOT be able to access bank accounts, lock boxes or even discuss health care issues with physicians. Having these in hand allows for a smooth continuation in meeting the daily needs of your loved one when they are no longer able to function on their own.

Living Wills clearly and fully explain your parents’ wishes regarding comfort and end of life decisions. I have experienced many adult children struggling with the emotional upheaval of “What would Mom want and is this the right thing to do?” when these documents are not in place.


If your loved one should have long term care insurance, their healthcare proxy should have in possession or have easy access to the policy, along with the Power of Attorney for healthcare matters. The insurance carrier will not discuss the policy’s benefits or attempt to activate the policy for anyone other than your loved one without the Power of Attorney in their possession.

Understanding the long term care policy prior to utilizing its benefits is a necessary step in making sure your loved one is protected as much as possible financially for future long term care needs. A majority of seniors purchased policies many years earlier and do not have a clear knowledge of their benefits or what the policy will NOT cover. I have experienced situations where family members thought their parent had long term care insurance when, in fact, all they purchased was a “nursing home” policy. This type of policy may or may not provide coverage for assisted living services.

Long term care policies are often difficult to read and understand the benefits, so please feel free contact me if you would like assistance in this process. Having the full policy, along with the glossary of terms is vital in this review process.

There are several things to consider as you work alongside your parent(s) or loved one in planning for the future and it may seem overwhelming. But beginning the process early will benefit everyone when the time comes to make the transition to the next stage of life. I’ll discuss other items to consider in an upcoming post.

Sarah Bishop is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Blakeford where she oversees sales initiatives in the Independent Living and Assisted Living communities. Email: