When asked, most people agree that they want to avoid living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility as long as possible. The majority of seniors prefer to stay in their homes to maintain their privacy and dignity. Their home may also contain many happy memories of their marriage and their children, so they may understandably want to keep living among those memories, even if they are becoming physically or mentally infirm.

Keeping you in your home as long as it is safe requires you to do a lot of planning. Part of this planning involves adding documents to your estate plan that protects your finances and your preferences for your medical care. Another part should be a long-term care plan.

What to think about in your long-term care plan

This plan takes your current health and support needs today, and attempts to anticipate what your future requirements might be. Every part of your life should be considered: things like cooking, cleaning, bathing, chores and simply getting around the house. Is your home safe and practical for your current abilities?

For example, are you able to get in and out of the bathtub safely, or would a handrail help? If you use a wheelchair, would a ramp help you get through the front door? Can you handle everything on your own, or would having someone come to help you with shopping or chores once or twice a week help you keep your home neat and full of necessities? Can a relative or friend handle these duties, or would you need to hire someone?

The legal part of planning to stay in your home

Your doctor can help you make a checklist to help with this planning. On the legal side, things like advance health care directives and powers of attorney can help you make sure your medical and financial decisions will continue to be made by someone you trust and according to your instructions.