Planning for retirement includes many considerations. Quaker Aging Resources offers information and links to articles on a variety of topics, listed below. The website was designed 10 years ago to assist meetings, individuals, and families in responding to the needs of aging Friends including age related changes, chronic illness, or disability. The pamphlets and resources are intended to uphold a culture of care for the body, mind, spirit and community of the individual which is consistent with Quaker faith, and address the following needs:
- Emotional /Behavioral Care
- Death and Dying
- Financial Matters
- Housing/Aging in Place
- Meaningful Retirement
- Physical Health
- Spiritual/Pastoral Support
Friends who are aging often have challenges in planning for their future. Involving family, adult children, and personal friends early in the process can make all the difference.
The following story outlines caring thoughts, activities, and reality-orientation for the life activity of long-term care planning. Ideally these steps happen early in life before health needs overcome and complicate decision making. However, if this planning begins after certain life changing events, support is available. In my role serving as PYM’s Aging Support Coordinator, I can assist Friends in navigating the Aging Assistance and Granting Group application as well as the Greenleaf application.
Another resource available to Friends of all ages, including for the aging, the Friends Counseling Service offers psychological support to members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, their families and regular attenders and staff. Service includes individual psychotherapy, couples counseling, and family therapy. Therapists in the Counseling Service are mental health practitioners licensed and insured in the states where they work. All are active members of PYM. Counseling fees are evaluated on a client’s ability to pay. Financial assistance is available to help cover costs. Meetings may choose to financially subsidize their members and attenders by making donations to the Counseling Service. The intention is to make counseling available and affordable to all Friends in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
When thinking about long term care, it’s beneficial to consider all aspects. This article, What is Long Term Care, written by the National Institute on Aging provides an excellent outline of considerations.
A Friend’s Story on Long Term Care Planning
I have had the pleasure of providing caring support to an applicant for the Aging Assistance Granting Group while she was in the throes of making a decision about moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Center (CCRC). I’ll call her Ms. T. The AAGG reviewed her application which was proposing expenses upon her move-in to the community. As these were not actual expenses, AAGG invited her to re-apply upon move-in to a community if she were to have financial need.
In my care with this applicant, I learned of her “pre-retirement” decision making. In her 60’s, Ms. T. was planning retirement from a long career as an educator. She and her husband researched long term care insurance policies and Ms T. made the decision to purchase one for herself. She benefited from the comfort of knowing that if her husband passed before her, she would have a resource for care needs. She also benefited from a tax deduction on the long term care insurance fees. Ms. T. has held onto this policy for close to 20 years.
Prior to retirement, 17 years ago, Ms. T. had a discussion with her close family members about her retirement goals. Included in the discussion was distributing copies of her Advance Directives. Her end of life decisions are included in the Advance Directives. Making her wishes known to her family was an important part of her goals checklist.
The following discussion illuminates how Ms. T. managed her goals along with valuable reference links.
When asked how Ms. T. knew it was time for her to move into a CCRC, she shared challenging experiences of managing her house with repair and maintenance issues which were draining her financially, physically, and emotionally. She had her Long Term Care Insurance and Advance Directives.
Ms. T. has not established a Power of Attorney for Finance as she’s chosen to list an Executor in her Will and has a child as a co-signer on all her financial accounts. The following resource provides a guide to the importance and types of Power of Attorney exist. It’s another subject for timely family discussion!
Next she needed to identify a CCRC of her choice that would accept her in a reasonable timeline. Ms. T. spoke of knowinga friend who was going through a parallel process. This Friend discovered that CCRCs had age restrictions for levels of care admission which set up another challenge. The CCRCs had availability challenges as her friend wanted a 2 bedroom and the time from application to acceptance to a contract took 5 years. Ms. T. had a much better experience of 9 months from application to acceptance to a contract as she was flexible about accepting a smaller unit. Getting an acceptance is based on both finance and medical assessments by the community. Time and funds are involved in scheduling medical evaluations and providing medical documentation. The CCRCs expect someone admitted in independent living to be truly independent.
The features and location of the CCRCs were motivational factors. Ms. T. now needs to refer to her calendar to see her availability for a conversation as she’s involved in many activities including swimming. Location near her family (support system) was important as was proximity to her Meeting.
Ms. T. had to sell her house and downsize. Keeping family treasures, pictures, and important documents are certainly the priority.
When I worked in marketing a CCRC, I recommended that new residents bring one of each of their favorite belongings from china sets to collectibles. The memories of enjoying use and the opportunity to still view them will always be with one while the space savings will be enjoyed more in their new home. Decisions on what to keep, what to sell and what to donate from a lifetime in one’s home is often difficult, preventing someone from moving ahead with their relocation goals.
During our conversation, Ms. T. mentioned she still has 4 boxes to unpack after living in the CCRC for months. The effort involved in this process was great. The cost benefit of the effort of moving into the CCRC gave her great hope.
A recent research study by the Mather Institute, Hope at Work, How Hope Functions as a Motivator for Healthy Behaviors provided that a hopeful outlook is associated with not only healthy behaviors, but with positive feelings about one’s future. The brief also explores associations between hope and healthy behaviors in specific demographic groups of older adults, including ethnicity, education, income, and more.
This flyer provides an overview of the study, with strategies to remain hopeful.
Bringing hope and planning into one’s life, at any age will give the greatest opportunity for a successful long term care plan.
Part of this story was first published in the Concord Quarterly Meeting January 2023 newsletter. The author, Sheila Sorkin, PYM’s Aging Support Coordinator, provides support to those in the aging community of our Yearly Meeting, including writing the “To Brighten Your Day” series.