How Do I Want to Live When I’m 91? Why We All Need an Aging Care Directive
Please don’t get me wrong. I intend to live to a ripe old age. But just in case I die young, I’m prepared—maybe not emotionally, but practically.
I have a health care directive that tells what kind of medical care I want if I can no longer speak for myself. I’ve signed a durable power of attorney that names a person to handle my financial affairs if I am unable to do so. And of course I have a will that details how I want my estate to be divided.
But what if I don’t die? What if I wither gradually, remaining mentally competent but a bit slower on the uptake, physically able but wobbly on my feet? In that case, I need a fourth document, an Aging Care Directive that tells how I would like to live, what kind of assistance I’m most willing to accept.
How long should I continue to drive? Do I prefer to remain in my own home, move in with a relative, or
These are big questions, and ones that often lead to disagreements between younger family members who worry about the elder’s safety and the elder himself who wants to remain independent. Or, on the other hand, the dissension could come from elders who expect more than others are willing to give.
An Aging Care Directive would not have legal standing, but it would have emotional force. It would help my loved ones initiate a conversation, and it might, it just might, help me accept that advice. After all, it wouldn’t be the advice of my child or an outsider; it would be the advice of my younger self.
And what if I become mentally compromised and cannot speak for myself? An Aging Care Directive would provide guidance as to the type of care I would prefer.
Like many people, I envision wearing high spike heels and a flamboyant fur as I dance my way into my nineties. But in case I break my ankles or bang my head as the band strikes up the music, it will be nice to know that my loved ones will help me make lifestyle changes that are in accordance with my beliefs.
We’ve established a website—www.AgingCareDirectives.com—that explains this concept more fully. It includes a form that makes it easy for anyone to make his or her own ACD, as well as samples from people who have written their own versions.
If you have ideas on this matter, please let us know. By working together we can make aging easier for our parents and, in the future, for ourselves and our loved ones. You can email us here.