Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Never Too Early to Plan

Back in the early '90's I went on a wonderful sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands with a group of friends. We spent time researching charter companies, we researched the islands themselves, we planned menus and even took groceries with us. Once there, we shopped again for provisions, we read maps and charts, and we plotted the course for our two weeks in the islands. Before we ever got there, we knew we wanted to go to Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay, made famous by Jimmy Buffett, and the Baths on Virgin Gorda.

All in all, we probably spent more time planning for and anticipating this vacation than we actually spent on the vacation. I suspect many of you have had similar experiences, whether it's a vacation trip to Disney World or a camping trip to Big Bend.

I bring this up because I heard somewhere recently that many people spend more time planning a vacation than they spend either on planning for retirement, for later life health issues, or how to manage finances in later life.

This was something I had never thought of before, but as I have been thinking about it, I'm sure there is a lot of truth to the statement. One thing I have learned is that it is never too early to plan for anything, especially something as important as retirement, which has a huge impact on quality of life. Another thing I have learned is to plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

As part of a Life Care Planning Law Firm, this is what I help people do. The Life Care Planning concept is designed to help the older adult with a chronic disease process plan for the future. Traditionally, we have dealt with chronic illness as a series of reactions. We feel bad, the doctor prescribes medicine, we get worse, we go to the hospital, maybe we have surgery, maybe we go home; and the cycle starts over again. Too often the patient is a passive participant in this process, with little input or decision making capacity. My goal is to help people take responsibility for their health and health care needs, and to become a more active participant in the decision-making process.

In future posts I'll give some examples of how this new way of planning has been able to help people.

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