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Who should I name as my financial power of attorney?

Who should I name as my financial power of attorney?

This month we will discuss the subject of powers of attorney. In week one, we will discuss how to name a financial power of attorney. This is also known as a durable power of attorney.

There are many things to consider when appointing a financial power of attorney (aka an attorney-in-fact). This is an important position. Whoever you appoint would have the ability to make decisions regarding how you manage your finances. While it may seem obvious, it’s important to focus on choosing someone who is organized, trustworthy, and financially responsible.

What powers does an agent have when they have a financial power of attorney?

As stated earlier, the agent with a financial power of attorney can handle your finances just as you can. An agent will have the ability to go to your bank and handle banking transactions. They can contact your investment account broker and manage those funds. They can handle your insurance and sell your house. Of course, you want your agent to only make financial transactions in your best interest while you are incapacitated.

Can things go horribly wrong? Yes! Your agent has the power to clean out all of your bank accounts and sell your home. Heck, if they wanted to, they could take your assets, move to Fiji, and set up a little beach bar! I want to reiterate: It’s important that you choose someone who would never even think of doing something like that. You need to choose someone who will only have your best interest at heart.

Who should be your financial power of attorney?

When considering who should serve as a financial power of attorney, a lot of people are compelled to choose someone close to them. A lot of times this will be a relative, such as your children or possibly a sibling, but it doesn’t have to be. The agent could also be a close friend or even a professional if that is who fits that role in your life. In our practice, we like to make sure that our client acknowledges this very important point: the person you name as your agent in a financial power of attorney will have the ability to handle your finances pretty much the same as you will.

Choose an agent who can communicate effectively

Not only do you need to trust your agent, but we also recommend that you find someone that other people trust! While this element is not completely necessary, it may be important to you that your agent be relied upon to communicate important information effectively with the people in your life.

For example, if one of your relatives says to your agent: “Hey, my Aunty saved a lot of money and invested it well, how much does she have now and what has the spent money been used for?”. Ideally, you would have an agent that relatives intuitively trust to spend your funds in your interest. However, it would be really awesome if your agent took the time out of their day to respond thoroughly to your relative’s questions.

woman wearing a bright yellow sweater holding a smart phone and looking down. The caption says "3 ways online banking simplifies transactions" 1. allow direct debit from accounts 2. set up automatic payments 3. the ability to use instant transfer methods
Choose an agent that is comfortable with online banking

Your agent should be good at bookkeeping

In a perfect world, your agent with financial powers of attorney would be held accountable for the transactions coming out of your assets. A good agent can effectively answer questions about spending and back it up with good bookkeeping!

An agent with power of attorney does not have to live in your state

As we mentioned before, the era of digital banking is here and it allows us the option to choose from a larger pool of agents, regardless of their location. Now, many people think that their agent under a power of attorney cannot be someone who lives out of state. And that is simply not true. Sometimes it helps to have somebody who lives in the state, but that is not a requirement in Tennessee. We do so many things by email and telephone, texting, and online business transactions that your financial power of attorney person, your agent, will likely be handling any business transactions online. 

Choose an agent who will outlive you

While this is not a requirement, it is a good idea to think about someone who will outlive you. Generally, when you are using your power of attorney, it’s when you’re incapacitated. While there are times when a durable power of attorney is used on a temporary basis, such as during a medical event, it is more likely going to be during a period when we are at the end of our lives and are experiencing some type of ongoing health condition that is not likely to improve. We recommend that you look for an agent who can help on a continuing basis. A well-suited agent allows everyone to relax and enjoy the time you have left on this earth.

Who should NOT be your durable power of attorney

Again, while it may seem obvious, it is important to reiterate that anyone who is untrustworthy, unlikeable, terrible with money, incapable of balancing a checkbook, or unable to effectively use online banking might not be the best choice for becoming an agent of financial power of attorney. The goal is to find someone who can keep good accounting records and knows exactly where your money went, down to every last penny! A good agent is someone who is willing to communicate with everyone without hesitation. The main point is that no one in your circle should be concerned that your agent is taking advantage of you if you are incapacitated.

Now, if you are not incapacitated, your agent should only be acting if you are telling them to do so. Even if you have your power of attorney take effect immediately, your agent can and should only act under your direction. If you find that the agent acts otherwise, there are legal actions you can take against them in court. 

In conclusion

A power of attorney is a useful tool for organizing the “adulting” part of your life, especially in incapacitation. A financial power of attorney should be someone that you absolutely trust; someone who will not give pause to others in your life. Someone who is financially responsible and organized, and someone who is familiar with handling online transactions. It does not matter if your agent lives in your state. In short, find an agent you believe will always have your best interest at heart.

There are many types of powers of attorney. Many powers of attorney are used when creating a well-thought-out estate plan. Do you think you could use a durable power of attorney in Nashville? Schedule an initial call to see if we can help you with your situation.

10 Easy Home Changes for Aging in Place You Can Make Today

10 Easy Home Changes for Aging in Place You Can Make Today

So you’re getting older.

Don’t worry; it happens to all of us – or at least that’s the goal!  But aging doesn’t mean that you have to limit your independence or immediately check into a nursing home. It just means that you need to make a few adjustments to ensure that your home remains comfortable and safe.

Today we will go over ten simple changes that can help you avoid a Steve Urkel move and make your home an age-friendly environment.

Why Aging in Place is Important

Aging in place refers to the ability to live in your own home safely and independently, regardless of your age or ability level. It allows you to maintain your familiar surroundings and go about your everyday routines with just a few helpful changes to your home. Aging in place enables seniors to maintain their autonomy and dignity while also reducing the financial burden associated with moving to assisted living facilities.

Before You Start: Assess Your Accessibility

The first step in creating an age-friendly home should come before you ever need one. Before you need a home that’s accessible to older individuals, identify potential hazards. This includes assessing the layout, identifying tripping hazards, and evaluating essential areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms, and living room. 

Your modifications will depend on your individual requirements. Consider your mobility, vision, hearing, and other specific needs. By understanding your needs, you can tailor your modifications to best suit your requirements for a safer living environment.

For example, if you notice you’re having trouble hearing the TV, you should consider investing in a door light. That way, if someone rings the doorbell, you won’t have to rely on hearing alone.

Ten Simple Changes You Can Make

1) Make the Bathroom a No-Slip Zone

The bathroom is a high-risk area for slips and falls. Installing grab bars near the toilet, shower, and bathtub can greatly enhance safety. Additionally, consider adding a shower bench or chair and a handheld showerhead for added convenience.

2) Keep Everything in Your Kitchen Within Reach

In the kitchen, ensure that commonly used items are within easy reach. Consider installing lower countertops and adjustable cabinets. Adding non-slip flooring and bright lighting can also make a significant difference in accessibility. Strong magnetic bars can keep knives in reach (just be sure the magnets are super strong so the knives don’t fall off the wall)!

3) Don’t Fall Out of Bed

In the bedroom, make sure the bed is at an appropriate height for easy entry and exit. Install handrails or use bedside grab bars to assist with mobility, or put a mobility device like a rollator next to your bed to help you get in and out of it. Adequate lighting near the bed and a clear pathway to the bathroom can also make a big difference for nighttime trips.

4) Clear a Walking Space in the Living Room

In the living room, arrange furniture to create clear pathways and remove any clutter that may pose a tripping hazard. Consider using sturdy, comfortable chairs with armrests to assist with standing and sitting. Adequate lighting and easy-to-reach light switches can also guarantee that you see any tripping hazards before they happen.

5) Install Grab Bars and Handrails in High-Traffic Areas

Installing grab bars and handrails throughout the home can greatly improve mobility and stability. Place them in key areas such as staircases, hallways, and entryways. Opt for sturdy, non-slip options that can support your weight.

6) Make Sure the Flooring is Non-Slip

Selecting the right flooring can significantly impact mobility. Non-slip flooring options include vinyl, cork, and rubber. Remove any loose rugs or carpets that may pose a tripping hazard, and ensure flooring transitions are smooth and level. Using cord covers near the wall (out of the walkway) will help prevent tripping over electronic cords.

7) Widen Doorways and Hallways

Widening doorways and hallways can improve accessibility for individuals with mobility aids such as walkers or wheelchairs. You may need to consult a professional contractor to assess the feasibility of making these modifications in your home.

8) Clear Up Your Entrances

Ensure that outdoor pathways and entrances are clear of obstacles. Repair any cracks, potholes, or uneven surfaces that may pose a tripping hazard. Install handrails or ramps as needed to facilitate easy entry and exit. 

Reminder: this is something you should be doing if you have one fall (or even before that). Don’t wait until you’ve had several falls to implement these tips!

9) Light Up the Room

Good outdoor lighting is essential for safety. Install motion-sensor lights near entrances and along pathways to ensure visibility at night. Consider adding solar-powered lights for energy efficiency.

10) Explore Smart Home Support

Smart home technology can greatly enhance accessibility and convenience. Consider installing voice-activated devices, smart thermostats, and automated lighting systems that can be controlled remotely.

Bonus: Medical Alert Systems/Cell Phones

Medical alert systems typically consist of a wearable panic button that can be easily activated in case of emergencies. When the button is pressed, it sends a distress signal to a monitoring center, where trained professionals can assess the situation and dispatch help if needed.

Just by adding a simple necklace or wristband to your daily outfit, you and your loved ones can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing help is just a button press away.

Another option is cell phones. If you have a loved one with mobility issues, a simple daily check-in can add to your peace of mind. (Pro tip: you can totally check-in without “checking in” – it doesn’t have to be super serious. Sending fun GIFs and saying, “I thought you’d like this!” is a great way to ensure someone’s OK without sounding like a worrywart.)

When in Doubt, Ask a Professional

Occupational therapists specialize in assessing individuals’ abilities and recommending appropriate modifications to promote independence. Consulting with an occupational therapist can provide valuable insights and personalized recommendations for what your home needs.

For more extensive modifications, such as widening doorways or installing ramps, we recommend consulting with professional contractors. Contractors who are licensed and experienced in accessible home modifications can provide valuable insight and knowledge about what works.

Financing Home Modifications

Of course, modifying your home isn’t always cheap. Review your insurance coverage to determine if any modifications may be covered, and contact your insurance provider for more information. Some insurance policies may include provisions for home modifications that improve accessibility.

There are also various grants and financial assistance programs available to help individuals fund home modifications. Research local and national resources to find potential sources of financial aid. Non-profit organizations (like Rebuilding Together Nashville) and government agencies may also offer grants or low-interest loans. (Want more info? Check out this link from Rebuilding Together!)

Embrace Aging in Place to Enjoy Your Golden Years

As we age, it is important to adapt our lifestyle to align with the changing needs of our bodies. This doesn’t mean that your lifestyle will become limited – it just means that it might look slightly different. Just think: the only thing that stands between you and successful aging in place is a bit of redecorating.

As you prepare to age in your home, you may also want to make sure you have a plan in place for your estate. Graceful Aging Legal Services is here to help you with estate planning, probate, and conservatorships. We can help you put your paperwork together and figure out what you need to truly embrace your aging in place. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

Becoming the Primary Caregiver for Your Loved One

Becoming the Primary Caregiver for Your Loved One

When the chorus of life changes its tune and the caregiving role falls to your feet, you may be tempted to take a page from a pop anthem and think you can take care of your loved one on your own. 

Before you tell your loved one, “You belong with me,” you need to put your oxygen mask. Long-term care isn’t just about playing hero; it’s about strategic moves, open conversations, and sometimes tough choices to keep the rhythm going strong.

Organization: A Beautiful Arrangement

Without the arrangement, the symphony is just noise. Without organization as a caregiver, you run the risk of much more than musical chaos: you risk harming your loved one. 

Here are some ways to keep the composition arranged perfectly:

  • Make a calendar of appointments, etc. to add a lilt to your daily activities. 
  • Know who else is playing – create a contact list of those instrumental in care. 
  • Keep a list of medications in order to keep the mood right. 
  • Make a list of caregiving tasks and service providers in case you need backup.
  • Consider centralized communications so you don’t have to sing on repeat.

Strumming the Strings of Self-Care

The spotlight’s charm fades when your spirits are lower than the lowest note you can sing. Being the primary caregiver is a test of endurance, a commitment that needs more than just a peppy melody. 

Self-care is the unsung verse in this song, and nothing to scoff at:

  • Regular health check-ups will keep you humming at your best.
  • Little breaks (or respite time) are instrumental in keeping your pace steady.
  • Support groups hit the right chord and provide backup to your solo performance.

Remember, if you’re out of tune, the duet with the person you’re caring for suffers. For a symphony of support for caregivers, a visit to The Administration for Community Living would be helpful.

Chorus of Conversations in the Family Band

The band won’t play together well unless each member knows the score. Discussing care strategies for your loved one can induce discord, but it’s a necessity. Here’s how to keep from going off-key:

  1. Hold a family meeting to riff on everyone’s thoughts and responsibilities.
  2. Encourage open dialogue—you all belong in this family ensemble.
  3. Chart everyone’s care duties to avert a chorus of complaints later.

Is it time to orchestrate a family meeting? These AgeWell resources may help!

The Bridge to Assisted Living

You may be singing a sweet serenade, believing whole-heartedly that home is the only concert hall for your loved one. But sometimes, an encore in another venue—like an assisted living facility—might be the most logical option. 

Here’s what to consider:

  • Assess your loved one’s needs—can you help them meet their everyday needs?
  • What are you willing to give up to become a caregiver? Will you retire or quit?
  • Take time for personal reflection—are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • How will caregiving impact your own savings/retirement plan?
  • Are you married, and is your spouse/family supportive of your choice?
  • Explore alternatives that can offer better care than you might solo.

Another note: are there ways you can still provide care while maintaining your current lifestyle (paid caregivers, nonprofit or faith community volunteers, adult day services, etc.)?

When the melody gets complex, check out our article on the pros and cons of assisted living facilities or ask those you trust about the experiences they’ve had with assisted living facilities.

Finale: Legally Tuning Your Care Strategies

There’s an encore element that demands attention: legal preparedness. 

Having a plan in advance is like sheet music for the future, keeping everyone on the same page. Work with a legal service like Graceful Aging Legal Services, PLLC, that conducts these arrangements with expertise, so you can ensure the final movements of your caregiving symphony are in harmony with smart decisions for your future.

Securing the long-term care and future of a loved one is no solo act. It’s an orchestra of thoughtful planning, tied with legal strings that resonate within the court of life. So, tune your instruments, take a deep breath, and let the music play in confidence knowing you’re not in this alone. Contact us for help when you’re ready!

Why You Should Move Before You Are Unable to: A Guide to Aging in Place

Why You Should Move Before You Are Unable to: A Guide to Aging in Place

Aging in place is the ability to live in your own home and community independently, regardless of age or ability. It allows you to remain in familiar surroundings while maintaining a sense of autonomy. Planning ahead for aging in place is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and a comfortable future. 

By getting informed about aging in place, you can make good decisions that will positively impact your quality of life as you grow older.

Benefits of Moving Early

One of the main benefits of moving early is increased housing options. By planning ahead, you can explore different housing choices that cater to your needs and preferences. 

Enhanced quality of life is another advantage. If you start early, you can create a supportive and comfortable living environment that promotes your overall well-being while reducing stress. When you plan and prepare, you can avoid the rush and uncertainty of emergency moves. 

Improved safety is important, too. Adapting the living space to accommodate changing needs can prevent accidents and injuries, meaning you’ll be healthier and happier.

Assessing Your Needs

When planning to age in place, it is important to assess and address specific needs. Here are some things you can do:

  • Make simple home modifications like grab bars and clear plenty of space to walk or move with mobility aids.
  • Invest in medical equipment or technology like stairlifts, home monitoring systems, etc., for added peace of mind.
  • Check into community support services, like meal delivery programs and in-home care providers, to stay socially engaged. 
  • Secure accessible transportation so you can get where you need to go, even if your situation changes. 

Our area has awesome resources for those who want to stay independent without personal vehicles. Check out WeGo, Senior Ride Nashville, or Wilson County Rides in addition to rideshare programs. If you need transportation to a medical appointment and have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have transportation benefits!

Exploring Housing Options

Independent living communities provide a range of housing options that cater to those who want an active and social lifestyle. These communities usually offer amenities and services designed to enhance well-being and promote socialization. 

Assisted living facilities are suitable for individuals who require some assistance with daily activities. Trained professionals are available to provide support while still allowing residents to maintain their independence. 

Nursing homes provide comprehensive 24/7 care for individuals with complex medical needs. These facilities offer skilled nursing services and rehabilitation programs. 

Our personal favorites, though, are continuing-care retirement communities. They provide a continuum of care, helping people transition seamlessly between independent living, assisted living, and nursing care as their needs change. While you may never need anything more than independent living, it’s comforting to know that you won’t have to plan another big move or relocate further from friends and family. 

Financial Planning

Most people ages 65 and up are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Additional government assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, may be available to eligible older adults. Exploring these options can provide extra financial support.

Consistently saving for retirement ensures you’ll have the necessary funds to support your desired lifestyle. Retirement savings, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, can help you live comfortably in retirement. If you are fortunate enough to have a pension, it will be a great resource to help your quality of life in your golden years.

For these types of accounts, you’ll want to make sure that you name a beneficiary with your financial institution. If you have a pension, you will need to designate whether you want your spouse to continue receiving income in the event that you predecease them. 

Medicare and Medicaid are government programs that provide healthcare coverage for seniors. Understanding the eligibility criteria, available benefits, and how (or whether) they can be combined with other plans is essential for effective financial planning.

Your Medicare coverage may assist with certain improvements to your home and home health care under limited conditions. Medicaid (also called TennCare) is frequently used by individuals in nursing homes to supplement their income to pay for care.  

Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of assisted living, nursing homes, and in-home care. It provides financial security and peace of mind for individuals planning their futures and provides more robust and flexible solutions than relying on Medicare or Medicaid alone.

Long-term care insurance can be expensive, but there are newer options to make it a better value overall, such as hybrid policies that provide a death benefit and deduct the amount spent on long-term care needs. Your insurance agent is a great resource to talk through these options. 

Building a Support Network

Family and friends play a vital role in supporting those who wish to age in place. Reliable support systems can provide emotional support and practical assistance, ensuring that loneliness is never an issue. 

Community organizations like FiftyForward and other local non-profits offer various activities and services to help seniors stay connected. Support groups for older adults can offer a space to share experiences, find understanding, and receive advice from others facing similar challenges. These groups foster a sense of community and provide emotional support. 

Professional caregivers can provide specialized assistance and care for individuals who require additional support. Hiring trained professionals can ensure individuals receive the help they need while remaining in their own homes.

Maintaining Independence

Physical exercise and wellness are essential for maintaining independence and overall well-being. Engaging in regular exercise like walking or fitness classes can improve strength, balance, and flexibility. 

Mental stimulation and cognitive health are also important. Doing puzzles, reading, and socializing can help keep your mind sharp and promote cognitive function. A little daily Wordle competition is a favorite in April’s house. 

Nutrition will help you maintain good health. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can support overall well-being and energy levels. 

Keep appointments with doctors and specialists to manage existing health conditions and address new concerns. Regular check-ups, screenings, and preventive care can help individuals stay healthy and catch any potential issues early.

Want More Info on Aging Gracefully?

Taking these steps will help increase your chances of having a comfortable and fulfilling future. 

Remember, it’s never too early to start thinking and planning for your golden years. 

By the way, there’s a FiftyForward event coming up on 1/16 to discuss housing. We’ll be there – will you?

How to Be Proactive in Your Caregiving Journey

How to Be Proactive in Your Caregiving Journey

Caregiving is an important responsibility. It involves providing essential services to another person (often a senior), helping empower them to live their best life even as they age. 

Understanding the Caregiver Role

Caregivers must understand the tasks and responsibilities they may be taking on, and think carefully about what boundaries they’d like to set in advance. Doing this is a crucial part of performing the job well and ensuring each person receiving care gets the help they need.

Caregiving works best when it’s a community effort. There’s a lot of joy in caregiving (which is something not everyone expects when they go into it). You may think of caregiving as “This is how I’m helping someone else,” but you’re actually helping your future self as well. Caregiving provides an opportunity to think about your goals and be more proactive about aging than you would have been if you weren’t a caregiver. 

It takes a village to be a caregiver – so don’t forget to lean on the support of others during this time. (More about that later!)

Some typical roles of a caregiver include tasks such as:

  • Assisting with activities of daily living
  • Coordinating medical appointments
  • Providing emotional support
  • Managing medications
  • Handling bill payments
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Resolving insurance benefits issues
  • Providing assistance with technical issues
  • Planning or providing transportation for loved ones

As a caregiver, it’s important to remember that the role can sometimes present physical and emotional challenges. Working to meet this head-on and find solutions is an important part of advocating for the individual you care for and yourself. Don’t forget to laugh where you can – it’s a great way to cope with the emotional and physical strain, build rapport, and enjoy this season!

Planning to Help Them Age in Place

Aging in place refers to the ability of an individual to live in their home and community safely and independently. Caregiving can help facilitate this process, enabling seniors to keep their homes rather than move into an assisted living facility.

(Aging in place isn’t the only option, however; some older individuals prefer to downscale or move into an assisted living facility for more companionship. Make the choice that works best for you and your family.)

Proactive caregiving should always provide a supportive environment for daily living activities. Evaluate the home for potential hazards and make necessary modifications and adaptations.

Some helpful and simple changes that can significantly increase safety include:

  • Everything they need, on one level. Although most people opt for single-story homes, it is possible to have a multi-story home and still embrace this principle. For example, April has everything she needs on the ground floor of her home except her washer and dryer. But she plans to hire someone to do her laundry once she can’t make it up and down the stairs safely!
  • Installing grab bars and ramps. All of us lose our balance sometimes, but as we age, it can become more common. Having something to provide stability within the home is important.
  • Using non-slip flooring and removing throw rugs. What is the point of throw rugs, anyway? Over time, they all curl up and cause a major tripping hazard. 
  • Use cord covers. Unless you want to go entirely off the grid as you age, cords will be a part of your life. They can be a tripping hazard, but cord covers can help!
  • Exploring accessible technology resources. Another aspect of aging can be limited vision and hearing. It can be helpful to find ways around these impairments.
  • Using medication management apps. Reminders are especially important to those who need to take their medicine at the same time daily. 

Building a Support Network

Anyone who has worked in caregiving knows that it is overwhelming. Having a strong support network for both caregivers and the senior individual is of the utmost importance.

Caregivers should seek to involve family and friends in the caregiving journey as much as possible. These people can provide much-needed assistance and emotional support as the situation is navigated. It’s also wise to utilize professional support, such as home healthcare aides or respite care services. Remember, you can’t pour into someone else’s life if you are empty, so respite care can be vital for your well-being!

There are also many community organizations and support groups that connect caregivers with others who understand their experiences.

Remember – a support network doesn’t have to just include those providing care to the person who needs care. A good support network should also provide care to the caregiver. As April says, “Don’t think you need to be a first-line caregiver to be important in the caregiver support system.” 

Self-Care for Caregivers

Taking good care of yourself provides a strong foundation to care for others. Burnout is a common issue for caregivers but must be dealt with for the overall well-being of both the caregiver and the person who is receiving care. 

So how should caregivers manage their mental health and levels of burnout? 

Here are some ideas:

  • Practice mindfulness to stay emotionally healthy
  • Engage in hobbies to keep your creativity alive
  • Move your body and exercise

If you’re still feeling burned out despite your best efforts to manage your stress, it can be a wise idea to seek respite care services. These services can help provide you with a break from your caregiving responsibilities and allow you to rest. You can also consider joining a support group designed especially for caregivers!

But what if you’re a friend or family member of a caregiver and want to know how to support them?

Here are some specific examples you can use:

  • A daily or weekly phone call to check in
  • Giving your friend a break every now and then
  • A monthly hike with a friend (boom – friendship and exercise!)
  • Send a thoughtful card or letter their way to encourage them
  • Bring them homemade meals or gift cards

Communication and Decision-Making

Trust is one of the most essential components of caregiving and aging in place. Good communication helps facilitate this trust, allowing caregivers and those receiving care to speak honestly about future goals and preferences.

Legal preparations, such as establishing power of attorney or creating a living will, can help ensure the senior’s wishes are respected and get all involved parties on the same age about end-of-life planning. Ensure all decision-making processes are clearly outlined to avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings.

Supported decision-making involves everyone – not just the person who is approaching end of life, but those who are involved with their care and part of the overall support system. The most important thing a person of any age can do is to talk to their support system in advance. 

First, talk to your family about your wishes, then write them down. Make sure everyone’s on the same page. If you can only do one of the two things, talk to your family.

Financial Considerations

Having finances in order is also crucial for aging in place. Understanding the insurance options and government assistance programs is important for caretakers to assist seniors with tasks like budgeting and managing support services. Resources that could prove helpful include FiftyForward and TCAD in Tennesee. 

Long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, and Medicare are some common options that can help with the financial aspects of caregiving and aging in place. It’s best to seek help from a trusted financial advisor or insurance agent to work through these options and determine the best way to combine them, if possible.

Resources and Recommendations

Consider checking out books from your local library about caregiving or finding helpful websites about caregiving. 

Here are some good places to get started:

You can also ask for recommendations from caregiving friends or family about programs that will support you!

Community programs like meal delivery programs and dial-a-ride services provide social engagement opportunities and promote overall well-being for seniors. Be sure to find out what services are available in your area, as they can be wonderful enrichment opportunities.

Proactive caregiving makes it possible for seniors to successfully age in place. As a proactive caregiver, you should make it a top priority to create a safe and comfortable living environment for the person you’re caring for. 

Understanding your role and what resources are available is critical in ensuring seniors maintain independence and dignity as they age, and having the right support can help you ensure you’re providing the best care possible so both you and the person you’re caring for have a positive quality of life.

At Graceful Aging Legal Services, we aim to help seniors age well. Part of this includes planning for their future and the future of their families. Want to learn more about aging in place? Contact us today, and we’ll help you prepare and organize so that major decisions aren’t looming over your head!

Is Assisted Living Right for Grandma After a Reindeer Attack?

Is Assisted Living Right for Grandma After a Reindeer Attack?

Is a care community the right place for your loved ones? There are a lot of terms out there for what living situations can look like as you age, and it’s easy to get them mixed up. Luckily, it’s not as confusing as it sounds.

Today we will discuss assisted living facilities: what they are, what they can do for your loved ones, and potential drawbacks.

Getting informed about your options is the first step in making the best choice for your family’s needs. It also means that you can be the expert the next time someone throws up their hands and asks, “What is the difference between a nursing home and assisted living?”

What is an Assisted Living Facility?  

An assisted living facility (ALF) is a residential option for individuals who require assistance with daily activities but do not need the level of care provided in a nursing home. These facilities offer a combination of housing, support services, and personalized care to promote independence and well-being. Think of assisted living as an apartment complex with friendly neighbors that happens to have trained caregivers on staff.

On the flip side, a skilled nursing facility, AKA nursing home, is a residential care facility designed for the long-term care of adults with serious health conditions. People living in an assisted living facility can still manage their independence and well-being, while nursing homes are for those who need more help.

Benefits of Assisted Living Facilities

Here are the pros of ALFs:

  • Professional Care and Assistance: Trained caregivers assist with tasks such as bathing, dressing, medication management, and mobility. This professional care ensures that residents receive the support they need to maintain their health and well-being.
  • Safe and Secure Environment: Assisted living facilities prioritize the safety of their residents. They have safety measures in place, such as emergency call systems, 24/7 staff availability, and secure premises. This creates a secure environment where residents can feel protected and have peace of mind.
  • Opportunities for Socialization: Your loved one can participate in a built-in community of peers, providing opportunities for socialization and companionship. Various social activities, events, and outings allow friendships to bloom and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Access to Amenities and Services: Assisted living facilities often provide a range of amenities, such as dining services, housekeeping, transportation, and recreational activities. These amenities enhance the quality of life for residents and make daily living more convenient and enjoyable.

Drawbacks of Assisted Living Facilities

Here are the cons of ALFs:

  • Lack of Independence: Moving into an assisted living facility may require some adjustment, as it can mean a loss of independence for adults used to living on their own. The level of independence can vary depending on the facility and the person’s needs.
  • Costs and Financial Considerations: Assisted living facilities can be expensive, and the cost is not covered by Medicare. It’s also not typically covered by Medicaid either, but it could be covered by long-term care insurance. It’s essential to consider the financial implications and assess if the cost is manageable for your family in the long term.
  • Adjustment Period and Potential Discomfort: Moving to a new environment can be challenging for some people, especially if they have lived independently for a long time. It may take time to adjust to the new surroundings and routines, which can cause initial discomfort.
  • Potential for Limited Personal Care Options: While assisted living facilities offer a certain level of care, it may not be as personalized as individualized home care. Some people may have specific care needs that cannot be fully met within the facility’s structure.
  • Downsizing to a Smaller Living Space: Going into a small apartment at an assisted living facility from a multi-bedroom home is a huge adjustment. Many people spend their entire lives collecting things that need to be sorted through and majorly downsized or moved into storage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Not sure what to think about? Here you go:

    • Location and Accessibility: Think about where their support system is located, as well as amenities and healthcare services. Accessible transportation options and a convenient location can make it easier for loved ones to visit and for residents to engage in community activities. If location is a dealbreaker, consider in-home care instead.
    • Quality of Care: Research the facility’s reputation and quality of care. Look for certifications, accreditations, and licensing information.
    • Staff-to-Resident Ratio: Ask about the staff-to-resident ratio to ensure that there are enough caregivers available to provide personalized attention and care. A low staff-to-resident ratio can indicate that residents may not receive adequate support.
    • Turnover Rate: Everything is a bit more complicated after COVID, but finding out how many of the nurses/CNAs have been there over a year can be a good indicator of how consistent the care is at that facility.
    • Available Services and Amenities: Review the services and amenities offered by the facility. Consider the specific needs and preferences of your loved one and ensure that the facility can meet those requirements. This may include dietary accommodations, transportation, housekeeping, and recreational activities.
    • Costs and Affordability: Evaluate the cost structure and understand what is included in the fees. Inquire about any additional charges or potential increases in the future. You’ll want to make sure that the facility’s costs align with your budget and financial capabilities.
    • Reviews and Recommendations: Seek out reviews and recommendations from residents and families with experience with the facility. Their firsthand insights can provide valuable information about the quality of care, staff, and overall resident satisfaction. You can also ask friends about where their family members who need care have lived.
    • Gut Instinct: Make sure you tour options before making a final decision. Sometimes you will get a feeling that something is off or not a good fit, and sometimes you will know that the care community is a great fit for you or your loved one.

Independence with a Little Help

If your mom’s joints are starting to slow her down, but she’s still independent enough to defend her position as the best bridge player in her weekly group, an assisted living facility might be the right choice for her. 


There are also independent living facilities (like retirement facilities/retirement dorms) that accommodate those who need a little bit of help but don’t need as much control over where they go and what they do. 


Assisted living facilities offer help when residents need it and space when they don’t, allowing your family members to retain their independence and helping you keep your peace of mind. Going through any major living change can be hard, and your loved ones may struggle with the idea of potentially losing their independence. 


It’s also wise to choose an assisted living facility attached to a retirement home, as it provides a quick transition for your loved one if their situation declines.

(No one wants to have to look for another facility or worry that the facility they’re at doesn’t provide the care their family member needs!)

These are called “step-up” or “step-down” facilities, enabling you to relax knowing that, no matter what happens to your loved one’s health, you’ve planned for their needs.


Your support and research into potential facilities is crucial. Weighing all the factors allows you to make an informed decision that best suits your loved ones’ needs. Sometimes what your loved ones need is a new community to be a part of (and to beat at cards).


Check out our blog for more advice about caring for your loved ones as they age.