This article uses the term “aging seniors” and “final years of life” frequently. For our purposes, an aging senior is someone who is facing his or her remaining years of life. Perhaps because of frailty or poor health or simply advanced age, this person is anticipating the end-of-life. An aging senior is no longer climbing the hill of life but has reached the pinnacle and is looking down the other side.
The terms aging senior and final years of life are significant to the type of planning and preparation one will do. When planning for the final years of life, an aging senior is no longer interested in accumulating wealth or planning for retirement lifestyles in senior retirement communities. Rather, they are more interested in using resources wisely and preserving assets. Aging seniors concerns generally shift to debt reduction and maintaining adequate income.
Aging seniors are also anticipating the need for long term care due to health issues and increased medical treatment needs. Will family members provide that care or will living arrangements need to change to professional care support and supervision provided by assisted living or a nursing home? Those who have little to no net worth or income often considered government programs through Medicaid planning and veterans benefits for support.
Planning for the final years of like should include proper legal documents and for preparations for the end-of- life such as death, funeral and burial. An elder law attorney, funeral pre-planning specialist, or an estate planner can assist with these important needs.
Here are some of the factors we use to define the final years and when somebody becomes a candidate as an aging senior.
Decline in Health
Health can decline over a period of time or a sudden change in health can occur due to an acute condition such as a heart attack, stroke, or fall resulting in an injury. Many of these acute healthcare issues eventually resolve themselves and the senior is back on track leading an active and productive life. On the other hand, the acute event can also result in a permanent change to health and a change in the future perspective of a senior. A change in health and the ensuing introspection on health issues often cause one to dwell on the final years and often result in a desire to do some planning. At this point we would say that this person has become an aging senior.
Health that deteriorates over a period of time generally does not improve and often gets worse. At some point, this almost always results in disability or death. Again, this change in lifestyle causes the senior to dwell on personal needs and limits the activity of that senior. At this point we would call this person an aging senior and the type of planning and preparation above should be initiated.
Frailty is an inherent symptom of old age. A person of this age is an aging senior and is in need of planning if the planning has not already been done.
Increased Reliance on Others
An increased reliance on others is typically a reflection of poor health, disability or dementia. An individual who has reached this stage in life is someone we consider an aging senior and we should be helping this person prepare for the final years.
High Probability of Dementia
Anyone exhibiting symptoms of dementia, we consider an aging senior regardless of age. Even though some people may live a number of years with dementia, the condition often shortens lifespan and that person is definitely living out his or her final years. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is particularly serious. If there are indications of dementia or even if dementia is full-blown, planning should be initiated immediately in order to lessen the burden, not only on the person suffering from dementia but planning should also be done to lessen the burden on the family and on the finances.