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Senior Care Planning: When to Start

| By Joy Loverde

When is the right time to start planning for senior living? The answer is simple: now. Learn more about the importance of planning for your future.

When is the right time to start planning for senior living?  While the answer is different for everyone, most experts – and senior living residents – agree, the sooner the better.

The best time to start planning for senior living is before you need it. But even to those who believe senior living communities can provide them with the vibrant, active lifestyle they desire, planning ahead often seems premature.

By being proactive, more options are available to you, and the better prepared you are to make informed decisions about your future. Planning now will also alleviate stress for both you and your family should a crisis arise.

So Why is Senior Care Planning Difficult for Many People?

The decision to move to a senior living community is deeply personal and can be influenced by a variety of factors. Some are unsure about the available options or don’t know how to navigate the process. They may not know where to start or who to turn to for guidance and support. Others simply fear change.

Joy Loverde, the best-selling author of Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? and The Complete Eldercare Planner has spent decades deep in the trenches with elders, solo agers, adult children and family caregivers. She provides some insights into why people do not actively plan for their “future selves.”

  • People don’t know how to plan. Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of senior planning discourages many from even starting the process.
  • Relying on others is the plan. Assumptions and unrealistic expectations that a spouse, significant other, adult child, or family friend will step up as a caregiver should care be needed.
  • The need for care is not a given. Many simply don’t plan for an event (or a need) that may never materialize.
  • Fear of change. Planning for senior living signals a change and change is hard especially as we age.

Senior Planning Can Start by Embracing Change

Getting out of your comfort zone and learning to embrace change is the first step in starting your senior care plan and a surefire way to ensure a brighter, happier, healthier tomorrow.

How do you embrace change?

“Embracing change is critical to creating a quality of life as we age. And remember, you (or someone you love) has already been here before,” says Joy.  “Many life-changing events have already taken place. You have what it takes to adapt.”

She adds that managing change and subsequent transition starts by understanding they are not one in the same. “Change is a situation or an event that happens or you make happen. Transition is the psychological path we take to adjust to change. People who are good at adjusting to change focus their energy on managing the transition process.”

Move Past the Myths

Starting your senior planning gets easier when you move past the myths and misperceptions about senior living. Senior living is not synonymous with nursing homes. You don’t give up your independence. In fact, senior living lifestyles often help preserve, and even enhance, independence. You don’t give up your privacy. You can be as involved (or uninvolved) as you want.

In reality, senior living communities offer more opportunities to enjoy life. You’ll live in a beautiful community with access to a huge array of activities, amenities, and convenient services right outside your door. Many communities even offer intergenerational programs, volunteer service projects, continuing education classes and more, right on-site. Plus, you’ll have plenty of friendly, social neighbors.

Plan Now for a Brighter Tomorrow

Whether you’re looking at independent living or assisted living, here’s why it’s important to start your senior plan now:

Healthier Living: Research shows that the social opportunities a community provides can help improve your overall health. Plus, most communities offer nutrition programs and fitness options to help you meet your wellness goals. And having a healthier lifestyle means you’ll be able to maintain your independence and keep living life on your terms.

More Options: The earlier you start planning, the more options you’ll have. Many senior living communities have waitlists – especially the most desirable ones. By planning early, you increase your chance of securing a spot in the community that best meets your needs and preferences.

Financial Preparation: Planning early allows you to assess your financial situation and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you can afford the type of care you desire.

Health Considerations: As you age, your health needs may change, and you may require different levels of care or assistance. Many communities offer other levels of care, including assisted living, long-term care and memory care, so you won’t have to worry about what to do during an unexpected health emergency. Planning early can help ensure you’ll have access to care and support services should they be needed.

Peace of mind: Planning your move to a community now can help relieve a lot of uncertainty and anxiety by putting you in control of your future. It will also allow you to make decisions calmly and thoughtfully, without feeling rushed or pressured. Planning also lifts the burden off your family.

Knowing  you have a plan in place for your future and that you’ve taken steps to ensure your well-being and security as you age is the very definition of peace of mind.

When You Move Matters

As you think about starting your plan, remember timing is everything. As you age, moving may get more physically and mentally challenging. The more able-bodied and healthier you are, the easier it is to manage the transition.

Ready to Explore a Senior Living Community?

If you’re ready to explore options that fit your lifestyle with the level of support you want, start your senior living search by reviewing thousands of communities with our Where You Live Matters Community Finder.

Where You Live Matters

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.

Originally Published: August 10, 2020 – Updated On: April 16, 2024

By Joy Loverde 

Joy Loverde has a reputation for being a path carver and visionary. She kick-started her career by introducing eldercare as an employee benefit to corporate America during a time when childcare benefits prevailed. Joy’s life-long commitment to older adults has taken her to every corner of the globe where she has personally interacted with thousands of caregivers and industry professionals. “When we plan, we have choices.” This is the promise of both of her books.  The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help (2023, Revised & Updated 4th Edition, Random House) is a trusted resource that has remained a best-seller in its category for decades. The American Medical Association says, “It’s the best book we’ve seen.” Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? (2017, DaCapo) is an equally respected resource. Critics hail the book as “illuminating and eye-opening” and “required reading for everyone over 40.” Over 30 years’ experience as a keynote speaker and consultant, Joy specializes in marketing events for active adult and senior living communities to increase occupancy and gain exposure to the lucrative Boomer market. Sponsors of Joy’s keynotes also include employers, women’s groups, insurance, law and wealth management firms, teaching institutions, and fundraising, among others. A seasoned on-camera spokesperson, Joy has been interviewed on the TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, NPR, ABC News, Good Morning America, SiriusXM, among many others. During her career, she has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, TIME, New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, Reader’s Digest, and Money among others. USA Today featured Joy’s work in a four-part series. Joy is an active member of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian-Americans and New York City’s Stonewall Community Development Corporation LGBTQ+ initiatives.

Learn more about Joy Loverde