Many of us remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying “There’s no place like home.” And it’s true. Whether we own or rent the premises in which we reside, the one place we hold as sacred is the one we relax and sleep in: Home.
No client wants to be swept away in the tornado that is a Nursing Home. Elder Law attorneys try to smooth over the term by calling it an “institution”, a chilling word which is (shockingly) not that much more comforting. Either term instantly invokes the thoughts of bad smells, confused or infirmed individuals, bad food, hospital beds, and misery before death. Truth be told, the “best” nursing homes I have seen are not places I would want to sleep in for longer than a 2 hour nap after a weekend without sleep.
But there is a time people need to check in, either when they are rehabilitating from a serious injury or when they need licensed nurses available 24 hours a day, possibly for the rest of their lives. It is this latter scenario that evokes terror in the aging population, since they are conceivably checking out of their most cherished location to an alien complex with sickly, confused individuals endlessly roaming through a sterile environment. I have heard numerous people tell their children “Shoot me before I go there”, but have yet to represent any estate of a victim of patricide or matricide.
The sad truth is that if you live long enough and get sick enough you may have to check in to a nursing home. However, the differences between the best and worst nursing homes are stark in contrast, and taking certain precautions may make a huge difference in your quality of life during your platinum years.
The best way to avoid this outcome as long as possible is to (a) include “Aging in Place” provisions in your Health Care Proxy, (b) purchase Long Term Care Insurance to give yourself greater care options, and (c) maintain your physical and mental health as much as possible as soon as possible. I have also found those clients who have a daily routine and continuing purpose in their aging years, such as charitable work and active social lives, stay at home longer than those who sit in front of their televisions and only leave the house for doctor appointments.
Staying at home sometimes requires hard personal and physical work, but it is this work that keeps you better prepared to avoid leaving your place of greatest comfort.
Q for YOU: What step have you taken to ensure your platinum years are as comfortable as possible?