Proper planning for seniors topic of film, talk

by Mike C. Gray - Posted on Apr 10, 2019 - 01:52 PM

Photo: Emily Martin with the Hook Law Center addresses a crowd at the New Life Ministry Center in Hayes following a March 26 screening of the short documentary “Edith + Eddie,” highlighting the need for planning for seniors.

Emily Martin with the Hook Law Center addresses a crowd at the New Life Ministry Center in Hayes following a March 26 screening of the short documentary “Edith + Eddie,” highlighting the need for planning for seniors.

“Edith + Eddie” was supposed to be a love story.

The short documentary film about two Alexandria senior citizens in their 90s who fell in love and got married was intended to be a feel-good movie about love in our later years.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers quickly realized that the story was taking a dark turn. The couple was separated by a court order and Edith was forced to live with her daughter in Florida.

On March 26 at the New Life Ministry Center in Hayes, Commonwealth Senior Living at Gloucester House and the Hook Law Center screened the documentary to highlight a subject that many seniors and their families often forget—proper planning as we age.

According to a recent study by Caring.com, nearly 60 percent of American adults don’t have essential planning documents in place that clearly outline their medical and care preferences. This means that the rights and protections of millions of seniors in the United States is in jeopardy.

Emily Martin with the Hook Law Center told attendees that the key to proper planning is to start early. Today’s seniors have more options than ever available to them, so it is important to understand and appreciate individual preferences before there is a necessity. 

There are three main areas that seniors and their family members should discuss: living arrangement options, financial protections, and medical directives/end of life instruction.

Living arrangements

Gone are the days of the old-fashion “retirement home.” Seniors have numerous choices that cater to their unique personality. Presenting these choices through tours and interviews will allow seniors to explore differentiators, care options and comfort levels. 

Financial protections

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, adults over the age of 60 lost over $1 billion last year due to financial fraud. Seventy percent of reported incidents started with a seemingly innocent phone call. Many seniors are afraid to reach out for help after a fraud because they are worried about the consequences. Involving an attorney or financial planner in discussions related to finances ensures that a senior’s assets are protected throughout their retirement.

Medical directives

Many seniors believe that a Last Will and Testament is all they need to protect themselves as they get older. The reality is that a Will is only a small part of the end of life process. There are numerous other scenarios seniors that should consider with their doctor and attorney including Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders, HIPAA releases, and Medical Proxies, which ensure a senior’s wishes are upheld during a medical emergency. 

Having these discussions can be difficult but senior citizens and their families must put protections in place so that their preferences and wishes are followed.