The challenge of planning for the future, whether it is financial or legal, is considering which path your life, and the lives of your loved ones, are likely to follow.  We all hope to have a healthy and happy retirement and then suddenly have it all end abruptly and peacefully.  I hate to be the messenger but this is more often the exception, not the rule.  I think you already knew that.

Usually some sort of health condition or incident creates a decline that is less than ideal.  Compounding the challenge is that even if you know what to plan for there are multiple options for addressing the various scenarios.  So basically, trying to plan things out too carefully will be frustrating at best and impossible otherwise.

So what should you do as you make a legal and financial plan for retirement?  Open your mind to the possible scenarios you might face and then become educated, at least to some extent, about the options for handling them.

Often people have some sort of personal connection to someone who has faced challenges in their later years.  Perhaps a parent with Alzheimer’s or an aunt with Parkinson’s.  Maybe a neighbor who had a hip fracture and immediately moved to a nursing home.  Or a colleague whose dad moved to assisted living and was either thrilled with the lifestyle or terribly disappointed in the support that was available.

While this sort of personal connection provides some insights it is unfortunately not a good basis for planning your own future.  Someone who saw a person deal with dementia might remain of sound mind their entire life but suffer from physical problems like severe joint pain.  A person whose dad had complications from diabetes might have some sort of dementia.  And so on.  The point is that mapping your own strategy based on someone else’s experience can lead to serious misdirected planning.

So what should someone do to plan ahead?  The answer is to learn what you can so that when you are facing your own future square in the face you know what options there are from which to choose.  Understanding the difference between assisted living and a nursing home is a simple example.  And what is the difference between over-55 communities, continuing care retirement communities, and community-based support systems like Beacon Hill Village?  And what about staying at home and bringing in help?  Each can be an ideal option for someone.  But if you are faced with a choice and that option is not on the table because you aren’t properly informed or didn’t do your research, then your care will be less than ideal.

Learn about the options beyond the simple bullet points and marketing materials various options put out there.  Ask lots of questions and make sure you get answers.  and of course the best strategy is to stay healthy and fit!