Chronic illness may affect a person in a multitude of ways. There are the obvious medical and physical symptoms as well as the emotional and social impact on the individual. It may affect the nature of marital and family relationships as the spouse and family members accept the role as caregiver.
Caregiving may come naturally to some; not so much to others. Regardless, the role change can be emotionally troublesome for the care receiver and the care giver.
One goal of the medical and rehabilitative team is be to treat the illness holistically, anticipating and minimizing the impact of the symptoms on the individual, and the family system, over time.
The legal, financial, and care management team should be and will be equally proactive in helping make the necessary plans to accomplish the second half of life goals. This team should work collaboratively to address some or all of the following:
- Who will manage finances and make financial and health care decisions if incapacity occurs?
- What kind of care is desired, now and in the future, and what care setting is preferred?
- What kind of treatment and care is desired in the event of a terminal illness?
- What are the financial goals, and how can they be accomplished during the individual’s lifetime?
- What are the goals to protect the estate for heirs and how can those goals be accomplished?
- If informal care giving cannot meet the care needs, what is the preferred way to pay for longterm
It is as important to be open and honest with your health care and legal team when planning for your second half of life. They can help you achieve your goals if you tell them what those goals are. Likewise, share your thoughts and concerns with family members/significant others who you trust. Consider including them in the health care and legal planning process. In the event that they might be making decisions for you in the future, you will be doing them a favor by telling them now what your wishes are for the future.