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Plan Ahead for Legal, Financial, and Medical Needs Before an Emergency

by National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health

No one ever plans to be sick or disabled. But being prepared for all kinds of health situations can make all the difference in an emergency.

Here’s what you can do now to be ready:

  • Tell a trusted family member, friend, or lawyer where you put all your important papers.
  • Give consent in advance for your doctor or lawyer to talk with your caregiver as needed. There may be questions about your care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without your consent, your caregiver may not be able to get needed information. You can give your okay in advance to Medicare, a credit card company, your bank, or your doctor. You may need to sign and return a form.

There are many different types of legal documents that can help you plan how your affairs will be handled in the future. Many of these documents have names that sound alike, so make sure you are getting the documents you want. Also, state laws do vary, so find out about the rules, requirements, and forms used in your State.

Legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease

Update financial and health care arrangements as soon as possible when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another serious illness expected to cause declining mental and physical health.

With diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the person may lack or gradually lose the ability to think clearly. This change affects his or her ability to participate meaningfully in decision making and makes early legal and financial planning even more important.

Although difficult questions often arise, advance planning can help people with Alzheimer’s and their families clarify their wishes and make well-informed decisions about health care and financial arrangements.

The State of Older Americans and Savings

The numbers are shocking.

  • In 2012, the average credit card debt among adults aged 65+ was $9,283 (Demos).
  • One-third of senior households has no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses (Institute on Assets and Social Policy).
  • The share of Americans 65 and older in the labor force went from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 16.1 percent in 2010 (Census).
  • 60 percent of women over 65 across the country lack the incomes to meet basic expenses (Wider Opportunities for Women).

As part of Older Americans Month, America Saves is stressing the need for all Americans to save for their future. With Americans, especially women, living longer – the reality is that Americas need to save more money for retirement or to work longer.

Tips to Prepare to Live Debt Free in Retirement

  1. Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals
  2. Know how much you will need for retirement
  3. Save at work and/or through a Roth IRA
  4. Find places to cut back so you can save more

Already Retired and Need Help: You Gave, Now Save

Millions of low-income seniors continue to miss out on nearly $1.2 billion in benefits (PDF) that can help them pay for their health care, prescriptions, food, utilities, and more. These aren’t handouts—by working hard their whole lives, older adults have paid into the programs that can now provide them support needed to remain healthy and independent.

  • BenefitsCheckUp —a service of the National Council on Aging (NCOA)—is the nation’s most comprehensive web-based service offering information on benefits programs, specifically programs for people with Medicare and limited income and resources.
  • The Eldercare Locator, a public service of AoA and administered by n4a, is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with information on senior services. The Locator is available both online Eldercare.gov and as a toll-free hotline at 1-800-677-1116.

About Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month is a proud tradition that shows our commitment to honoring the value that elders contribute to our communities. This year’s Older Americans Month theme—“Unleash the Power of Age!”— highlights the significant contributions made by thousands of older Americans across our nation. The event is organized by the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging.

Older Americans Month 2013 – Unleash the Power of Age!

By Carol M. Crecy, Director of External Affairs, U.S. Administration for Community Living

For 50 years, May has been the month we celebrate older adults across the nation. You could say that Older Americans Month is coming of age. This year’s theme—“Unleash the Power of Age!”—emphasizes older Americans’ potential for energy and activism and urges them to embrace it.

There is no age limit on achievement—and older Americans are doing incredible things. They make a difference in their communities by continuing their careers, pursuing new business ventures, and volunteering in their retirement years.  To find ways to get involved in your community, visit www.Serve.gov.

Staying active, engaged, and healthy is good advice for everyone, but it is especially important for older people. The U.S Administration on Aging (AoA), supports older adults through programs and resources to encourage healthy living. In addition, the Affordable Care Act is making certain vital preventive services, such as mammograms, diabetes screening, and an annual wellness visit, available for seniors with Medicare.  Also, check out Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.  

Throughout the year, and especially during Older Americans Month in May, we urge all Americans to appreciate and celebrate the vitality, aspirations, and achievements of elders and their contributions to society.