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Long-term care planning essential to ensure wishes are followed

There are not many Texas residents or others around the country who like to think of a time when they may become seriously ill or unable to take care of themselves. While it is common for most people to make plans for their education, families and retirement years, they do not often consider long\-term care planning. Unfortunately, by the time it becomes an issue, it is too late to make the necessary decisions.

Experts strongly recommend addressing the issue of long-term care while individuals are able to speak for themselves and clearly communicate their wishes. While it may be an uncomfortable topic to address, it is much better to know that decisions are made when someone has the capability to adequately consider the potential possibilities. Furthermore, without the expressed wishes being documented, conflicts can arise within families over decisions about care. Well-intentioned family members may often make the wrong assumptions about what a person wants.

Whatever decisions about long-term care are made, it is imperative to put them in writing. One document used in planning is an advanced directive that would only be used if someone is unable to communicate. An advanced directive includes a living will, a document that would specify what action should be taken if a person is dying or is incapacitated. Also, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care designates someone that will make decisions about health care if a person cannot. Advanced directives may also include someone's wishes about how to manage symptoms of an illness or condition as well as decisions about organ and tissue donations.

Hopefully, a person will always be able to clearly communicate his or her wishes regarding care and these documents will not be needed. However, to prevent confusion and disagreement, long-term care planning is strongly recommended. A Texas elder law attorney can provide guidance in establishing an effective long-term care plan.

Source: bismarcktribune.com, "Health care requires advance planning", Martha Reichert, July 30, 2017

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