As the saying goes, the best time to fix your roof is when the sun is shining.

When it comes to caregiving and important end of life decisions, the best time to make decisions about this care if before it is ever needed. Of course, life can be unpredictable and it isn’t always possible or even feasible to plan ahead for all possibilities and contingencies. Unexpected injuries or illnesses can force family members into making quick decisions, often in the blink of an eye.

What can we do now? With all of that in mind, it is still very important to know what decisions can and should be made, and when. The numbers tell us that around 70 percent of people who are turning 65 now will need some level of long-term care services as they get older. Long-term care likely includes help and support with what is known as “ADLs” or Activities of Daily Living, including getting dressed, bathing/showering, using the toilet and eating.  

Planning ahead. Long-term care planning is all about creating – and discussing with your loved ones – your personal strategy and preferences in the event that you (or someone you love) needs care, whether urgently, over time or both.

Staying home. For some people, the preference to stay home until the end of life is the top priority. They don’t want to consider outside facilities such as Assisted Living or nursing homes. Plans and decisions about home modifications should be made and used if needed (these could include things like adding wheelchair-accessible ramps or adding bathroom stability bars).

Family care. Many people feel that they’d like a family member to take primary care of them when the time comes. While family is among the most important things in life, the reality is that this isn’t always possible. Even family members are ready, willing and able can’t be on call 24/7/365, so supplementing family care is something to consider no matter what the situation.

Information is power, especially when it comes to knowing all of your options for future care. The good news is that there are great resources and many sources of expertise that you can count on when you decide to begin your decision-making.