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Pre-Crisis vs. Post-Crisis Planning: Confronting Life’s Unknowns by Beatitudes

As we talk with those considering residency at Beatitudes Campus, we often address the issues of the future and take a look at our licensed healthcare settings as a part of the conversation.  Many of you expressed those concerns as we originally met with you.  Even though you’re already a resident, it still bears repeating that we need to continue to have a plan for the future.

“Planning for a crisis”: it almost sounds like an oxymoron. But as we grow older, it becomes a matter of practicality. Yes, we’d all like to think that we will be healthy and able-bodied for the rest of our lives, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  Resident after resident here at Beatitudes Campus has come to us with that inevitability in mind.  That’s where planning for a crisis comes into play.

I was reading Brad Breeding’s (MyLifeSite) blog and he discussed that he was recently talking with a friend whose 84-year-old father had suffered a sudden health emergency, which necessitated life-saving surgery followed by several weeks in the hospital. As the day of his discharge approached, the family was frantically trying to determine a “plan.” They had to make arrangements for their father to be transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility in a city that was over an hour from home; they had to make provisions for their elderly mother so that she could be both cared for and close to her husband of 57 years in the rehab facility. Needless to say, it was a stressful time for everyone in the family.

This is an all too familiar story that can be told by millions of people across the country with only slight modifications of the details. While some people are quite proactive about things like saving for retirement or creating a will, many people, unfortunately, do little to prepare for a health emergency in advance. Instead, families are forced to go into crisis mode to deal with the unexpected circumstances that have arisen.

This is referred to as post-crisis planning.  It’s the, “Oh no! What do we do now?” situation that so many families find themselves in when an aging parent has a health emergency such as falling and breaking a hip or having a stroke.

While most major hospitals will have social workers on staff to help you navigate the complexities of the process, there is an avalanche of questions and issues that still have to be addressed in these cases.  I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my career, I have had families sitting in my office telling me they wished there had been a plan in place.  

The goal of pre-crisis planning is for the senior and their family to answer many of these questions in advance and therefore alleviate some of the stressors that accompany a healthcare emergency. Pre-crisis planning empowers seniors to take control and make their own choices before a serious health situation arises.  Among other things, this planning includes things like creating a will and advance directives so your loved ones and healthcare providers understand your wishes, but pre-crisis planning goes a step further. Here are some suggestions and items I would encourage you to explore in your future planning now that you live on campus:

  • Becoming familiar with Be at Home (Beatitudes Medicare-certified home care and Beatitudes at Home non-medical assistance) right here on campus.
  • Potentially establishing a relationship with a geriatric care manager, professionals who are specially trained to assess, plan, coordinate, monitor, and provide other services to elderly patients and their families.
  • Adding an adult child as a signatory on your financial accounts.
  • Working with a knowledgeable financial advisor who understands how to help families navigate these types of decisions, including expertise about asset withdrawal sequencing, long-term care, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important financial considerations. An advisor who can help serve as a facilitator for your family can be a tremendous asset.
  • Become familiar with our Success Matters program and how they can be a resource to you both now with an evaluation and in the future.

These are all valuable steps you and your family can take to prepare in advance of a health emergency. But perhaps one of the most proactive steps you can take when it comes to pre-crisis planning is to consider relocation to a senior living community such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community).  So congratulations!  If you are a Beatitudes Campus resident reading this article, you have taken a big forward step in your planning.  Sometimes it’s great to take a look at your decisions in light of all of the options and feel secure and happy that you have come to live on a campus such as Beatitudes.

Some CCRC/Lifeplan residents are attracted to the numerous services and amenities provided by the community, but for many Lifeplan residents, pre-crisis planning is at the heart of their decision to move. Perhaps they had to deal with difficult crisis situations with their own aging parents and want to avoid putting their adult children in that same position. Or maybe they like the empowerment they feel by taking charge of their own future. Whatever the reason, Lifeplan communities provide both residents and their families with a great sense of security, knowing that their loved one will receive the care they need, if and when they need it.

As you recall from the initial conversations with your residency counselor, Beatitudes Campus provides its residents with contractual priority access to care services for life. Referred to as a continuum of care, residents receive increasing levels of healthcare services that they need as they age. Most residents begin by moving to the independent living apartments of the campus, and then as their needs evolve, they can conveniently transition to the assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing care facilities, which are typically on the campus. When you think about it, in many ways, a lifeplan community offers an all-encompassing solution to just about any age-related crisis that may arise.

Dealing with a health issue is never easy—for the patient or for those who love him or her. But the steps you have taken in advance help to simplify a difficult situation. The point of this pre-crisis planning is to already know where to turn if things change suddenly with your health or your ability to care for yourself. Armed with this information, you and your family will be able to focus on what really matters during such times: spending time with the people you love, enjoying a meaningful “third act”, taking Life Long Learning classes and living on a campus where can you know you are truly valued.

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