One thing that is certain is that, no matter who you are, as soon as you're born, you are aging. And once we or our loved ones get to an age when additional assistance may be needed, it's good to have at least thought through a few things.
Five ways families can start thinking about the future (without having an anxiety attack) by engaging in some self-reflection that can help your decision-making later in life.
Go through these considerations yourself and then pass them along to a loved one:
1. When you need help, do you prefer to solve problems yourself or do you like working in a team? Do you know know your limits and when to ask for help? Do you enjoy making new friends? Are you a social butterfly, or more of an introvert? Be sure to consider these things, as they may help your family to determine a living arrangement everyone can feel good about down the road.
2. First, think about what you value most in the people you work with: work ethic? A team player? Do you like to be left alone? Now, think about what you value most in the people you spend recreational time with: humor? A good cook? Someone who calls often, or not at all? Are they spiritual? One day when you or a loved one needs a caregiver, compatibility will be imperative, so it's important to identify characteristics you like and others not so much.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Think both physically and mentally. For example, are you a worrier? Try to establish a fitness routine to manage your stress that you can adapt as you age. Another example: if you're 35 and your eyesight is already poor, consider your needs down the road if it progressively worsens. Or maybe you've got an existing medical condition that you manage - talk to your doctor about ways to manage it as you age.
4. Where do your close family and friends reside? Are they far away or right next door, and do you see that changing in the future? How important is it to you that you are within driving distance to those who mean the most? Do you have a career that requires that you or your partner/spouse to remain in a certain geographic area? Be realistic with yourself about what is most important to you.
5. And finally, what do you enjoy doing? What gives your life meaning and purpose? Exercise? Cooking? Going to the movies? Gardening? Sports? Fishing? Whatever it is, hold on to these things, and make sure that, no matter where you are in life or whatever your abilities are, you are able to keep them up as long as you can. Even if you need assistance someday, be sure to find a provider that will help you to see this through.
Being prepared doesn't need to be a daunting task, but rather a journey of truly understanding yourself and your loved ones so as to make the best, most educated decisions possible.