6 ways to plan for the future

6 ways to plan for the future
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Keep checking driving ability

Why it’s important:
‘There is no doubt that over 75 (and especially over 80) many people start to have problems with driving,’ says health columnist Dr Trisha. ‘They may be fine on short, familiar journeys but find it difficult to manage demanding situations such as high-speed junctions.

‘Poor eyesight and hearing add to the troubles, while signs of early dementia (such as memory problems and difficulty processing information) can significantly affect someone’s ability to drive safely,’ she adds.

Where to start:
If you’re concerned about someone’s driving, ask your GP for advice on medical conditions or prescriptions that affect driving.

Make a will

Why it’s important:
‘Without a will, it’s unlikely any money you leave will be passed on in the way you had hoped,’ says Yours Money Expert Sarah Jagger. ‘Worse still you could unnecessarily leave a large legacy to the taxman.’
However, more than half (55 per cent) of the population die 'intestate’, ‘If your affairs are complicated, for example if you’ve been divorced or have step-children, then consulting a solicitor is a good choice,’ adds Sarah. You should review your will every five years and don’t forget to let your family know where it’s stored.

Where to start:
Call the Yours Retirement Services will writing team on 0800 915 4714, or visit www.yours.co.uk/estateplanning

Ask for help managing your money

Why it’s important:
‘Consider what would happen if illness or incapacity strikes and you couldn’t access bank accounts or pay bills for your loved ones,’ says Sarah Jagger. ‘Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives your relatives the power to choose someone they trust to make financial decisions. If their health deteriorates and there’s no LPA in place, the family will have to apply to the Court of Protection, which can be a costly and complicated process.’
There are two types of LPA: property and financial, and health and welfare. You can make one or both. Each has a £110 fee but you may not have to pay if you’re on a low income. It’s crucial to set them up early so that they can give full consent.

Where to start:
Find out more from the Office of the Public Guardian, 0300 456 0300 (for England and Wales Ð the process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland). Speak to a solicitor if you want legal advice or create an LPA online at www.gov.uk/lasting-power-of-attorney.

Decide what medical care you would like to receive

Why it’s important:
‘Many older people admitted to hospital in an emergency are unable to make important decisions for themselves,’ says Dr Trisha. ‘As doctors we then turn to close family but if people haven’t discussed what sort of care they would want, it can be incredibly stressful and lead to tensions if family members disagree.’

Where to start:
Talk to your loved ones about their wishes in the event of being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or a sudden illness that leaves them incapacitated (such as a stroke). This can either be done informally or consider creating a Health and Welfare LPA (see point three).

Consider a community care assessment

Why it’s important:
'They’re designed to find out what support might be available,’ says Yours Reader Care Editor Rosie Sandall. ‘A social worker will visit your home to look at individual care needs, and take into account the carer’s views.’ The assessment may recommend special equipment, a day centre place, or respite care. It can also provide access to other help such as benefits Ð 360,000 carers miss out on the weekly Carer’s Allowance.

Where to start:
‘People often refuse outside help,’ says Rosie. ‘But speak to your GP or community nurse as they can help the person concerned agree to a review of their situation.’

Make living in your home safer 

Why it’s important:
Most of us would prefer to stay independent in our own homes for as long as possible. There are lots of simple adaptations and practical help available that can make life easier. For example, Eldercare has a range of easy-to-use technology solutions that enable your loved one to alert someone if they need immediate assistance. If they fall or feel unwell, they simply press the button worn on a pendant or wrist to be connected to an Eldercare emergency response operator who can alert someone to come and assist. There are many ways of triggering alerts, for example movement sensors that detect if someone has left the house and environmental sensors that detect if the gas has been left on or taps left running. By using Eldercare’s services, your loved ones can enjoy their home and garden for as long as possible Ð and it’s much cheaper and less unsettling than having to move to residential care.

Where to start:
For more information about Eldercare services call 0845 603 4576 or visit www.eldercare.co.uk

How to tackle tricky problems

The Yours Guide to Helping Loved Ones Live Independently offers the following advice on how to broach difficult conversations:

  • Say what you are thinking. Don’t exclude your loved one from conversations - if you’re talking to everyone else about your concerns, perhaps it’s time to talk to them too.
  • Do some research. Information leaflets (or printed from the internet) can be a useful starting point for conversations. 
  • Meet the professionals. If your relative has appointments with health or social care professionals, try to be there. If you can hear first-hand what the challenges are, it’s easier to find ways to help.
  • Seize the opportunity. A crisis or change in circumstances, such as a spell in hospital, could be a useful springboard to talk about how they could live more safely and comfortably in the future.
  • Respect each other’s point of view. Your idea of what may be helpful may well be different to your relative’s. Accept that, in the end, you may have to agree to differ.