Survival Strategies in Later Life
by Sep Meyer
The following ten survival strategies are loosely based on Long Distance Caregiving: A Survival Guide for Far Away Caregivers, by Angela Heath, published by Impact. It has been adapted to enable it to be employed and applied by older persons themselves rather than by their care-givers.
Keep all important information and documents in a readily accessible place and keep a clear note of where it is to be found.
Make a list of all those in your local and extended community who may be available for help. These to include neighbours, friends, relatives, health consultants, religious, civic and social organisations. Ensure that house keys are available at least with neighbours. Arrange for network members to contact you if they suspect a problem. Check also with local community ageing networks such as Age Concern or Help the Aged to familiarise yourself with local helpful services.
Be sure you are acquainted with all travel options available in your area and ensure that you take advantage of all special arrangements and discounts to which you are entitled. Make sure that your car is regularly serviced, taxed and insured and that your driving licence is current.
Take advantage of all shopping options, such as community free bus services and Internet shopping.
Locate and make readily accessible all legal, financial and insurance documents, including birth certificates, social security cards, marriage or divorce decrees, wills and power of attorney. Identify bank accounts, titles, sources of income and obligations, and vehicle, life, homeowners and medical insurance papers. Store documents in a secure place such as a safe-deposit box, a fireproof box, or with your bank, solicitor or accountant. Make duplicate copies where appropriate. Provide a clear indication of where all documents are to be found as mentioned in item 1 above.
6. LEGAL AND FINANCIAL MATTERS
It is essential that you draw up a Will and check it regularly - at least once a year - to make sure it is still relevant and appropriate. Provide instructions for giving Power of Attorney to an appropriate person. Ensure that this is known to your banker, insurance broker, solicitor, and/or accountant in addition to whoever has been named as Executor and/or Trustee.
7. FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS
This should be covered by an appropriate note in your Will, but should also be made known to your next of kin and your legal and financial adviser.
8. DEVELOP A CONTINGENCY PLAN
Ideally you will have a family meeting, decide what are the primary needs, who is best able to do what, and then draw up a contingency plan and agenda to cover potential situations and requirements. All family members should have a written copy of the plan. Fix further meetings at regular intervals, in the knowledge that plans may need to be altered if your circumstances change.
9. EXPLORE RELOCATION OPTIONS
With the possibility that your existing domestic arrangements may become untenable, you are well advised to consider how and where a relocation may be appropriate, particularly if your concern is to be of as little inconvenience as possible to others. Both financial and emotions costs should be taken into account.
10. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Draw up a plan that is easy to implement and easy to maintain whereby your health and fitness may be assured as greatly as possible. Discuss any plan involving physical effort with your medical practitioner.