WHEELING - When it comes to the "golden years," planning ahead for your long-term care and health options can save time, money, and emotional stress.
Experts agree that planning for the future early is vital, and the sooner the better. Making plans and decisions during a time of crisis should be avoided, if at all possible.
According to the National Council on Aging, about 91 percent of older adults have a least one chronic condition, and 73 percent have at least two. Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, and lung disease, seriously compromise the quality of life of older adults, often forcing them to give up their independence too soon.
Photo by Art Limann
Shirley Case, senior service director in Colerain, gives information to a senior regarding health care. Senior centers throughout the area are able to provide information or direct them to where the information they need can be found.
Financial, emotional, and types of health and possible long-term care, which may be needed, are of main concern. Levels of care, for example, depend on the health of aging family members. It can range from in-home single living, to assisted care, to long-term care facilities. Planning should include health but finances and legal issues, such as wills, also are important.
Supplements to Medicare and Medicaid must be investigated to determine what is best for individual needs. Counselors are available at most senior centers to assist with those decisions. In addition, websites, such as wvseniorservices.com can also provide information.
David Hacker, program coordinator for Senior Services of Belmont County, said, "Seniors in general should consider nutrition and medical stability a priority. Ensuring that seniors maintain regularly scheduled exam appointments and well balanced, high protein diets is critical. The largest number of seniors that we have approaching our agency are in need of hot nutrition. We achieve this through home delivered and congregate meals.
"Second to that, most seniors have concern/questions related to their Medicare products, not knowing which product to choose or what the benefits entail. We are working to establish programs like the Education Day at the Ohio Valley Mall to lend support to these concerns," he added.
Hacker said seniors that need assistance with any aging-related issue or issues should contact Senior Services of Belmont County or any Senior Services center. He added while his office may not be able to provide every service that a person may be in need of, it can refer seniors to other agencies to get information that is needed.