I recently read a book that I think is helpful for all of us, either as we begin to plan for the next stage of our own life or are helping our parents, in-laws, or other people deal with issues in their life. It's entitled Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life--Trusted Advice on How to Secure Your Future and Avoid Costly Mistakes, written by Jan Warner & Jan Collins. The book is based on their nationally syndicated column "Next Steps."
Bottom line, they provide a comprehensive guide to planning for the future and convey the importance of putting our directions and wishes in writing so there will be "an orderly tansfer of authority" so we know that our partner, children, parents and even our pets will be cared for. They cover issues such as putting together a team of people that is right for you, ways to prepare the necessary documents that we all need, and a lot of the "what if's" in life such as if you or your partner become chronically ill or incapacitated, focusing on issues such as health care planning, long term care issues, understanding basic medicare and medicaid and patient rights issues in assisted living programs and nursing homes, etc. They also focus on issues of divorce and 2nd or 3rd marriages when we're older, cohabitation and domestic partnerships. The final section in the book focuses on end of life considerations such as funerals, burial issues, organ donation, planning for pets, etc. As they point out, things are different today with longer life expectancies, more two wage earning families, the higher cost of care and the uncertainties of our economy. They write in a reable way and also share websites and resources.
There are all sorts of reasons why many of us avoid discussing these issues, but, given my philosophy of trying to control the parts of life we can control, I think it's important to think ahead and plan for ourselves, our children (if we have them) and our parents, if they're still alive. It's actually a form of "insurance" to protect us and our loved ones--to consciously and intentionally plan for the next stage of life. We all hope that we'll remain healthy into our older age, but none of us have a crystal ball. There's a lot of things to juggle. I'm a believer that we can breathe more easily once we know we've taken the time to prepare for some of the possible contigencies of life. We need to understand the issues and risks and choose professionals who can help us develop a plan that's flexible in maximizing our options.
I found this book helpful and informative. I have already taken care of a number of the items they mentioned, but it helped me think about some issues I hadn't considered. I recommend it and would love to hear your thoughts about the book. Take care. Dori