How can I prepare NOW (I'm 63 and in good health) so I don't become a burden to my children (if I live long enough)?

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We've just taken the MIL from a nursing home to live with us. She has dementia but still loves life and her family. If we left here in the nursing home it was like we were passing a death sentence. How can I best prepare now for my own long term care arrangements?

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Follow all the good advice given above, especially POA, wills and end of life directives. If you have children do everything you can to make your care easier for them as you age. Have some serious disscusions now and commit outlines on paper as to you intentions. Please don't expect your kids to care for you in their homes till the end.
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I have a small home that will be comfortable and easy to live in as I get older. When I can no longer live on my own I am to be put in a nice care facility preferably with my own room and bath. If I am on any medications they are to be stopped at that time. The money I have saved will have to go to my care and when I'm out of it then I need to go on welfare or whatever is available at the time.
I absolutely DO NOT want my son or any of his family taking me into their home and caring for me as I have done for my parents. The greatest gift I can leave to my son and his family is their freedom. You never know how precious freedom is until you lose it to the daily responsibilities of caregiving.
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You know that's a good point on the health and fitness aspect. I have notes from the myriad of docs I take my mom to about how a lot of her issues could have been prevented or greatly reduced with a healthier lifestyle. High carb, high sugar, high fat and little exercise was a recipe for disaster.

Her heart doc said her walking on the treadmill and changing her diet to more good fats (omega3s, olive, coconut oils) with low GI veggies, baked/grilled chicken and fish and low sugar fruits along with her meds probably saved her life many times over despite the health issues. When said the treadmill walking and other active exercise helped grow new blood vessels in/around her heart I was stunned. She said it has a similar effect on the brain as well and that's why they stress exercise so much for recovery of heart attacks and other heart/brain events. She also said stress management and thought life is crucial. The PCP told me try to avoid diabetes to reduce having so many issues that often come with it (blindness, vascular disease, kidney decline, heart, amputation and dementia). She said eat more fruits and veggies, fish and reduce carbs (especially white ones, processed stuff) and sugar along with moderate cardio/strength training most days of the week is the best prevention. Not rocket science but to hear her many docs say the same things made an impression. They said it reduces health care costs, enabling them to live independently longer with a greater quality of life.
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On the other hand you could 'eat, drink and be merry' and plan to die early. I always have to chuckle to myself that none of us wants to live to decrepit old age but we're always advising each other to take care of our health ;)
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Exercise at least 35 minutes everyday. That is 4 hours a week. Something like walking. Eat a lot of fish. Not fish sticks, either. Real fish. Lots of veggies. I know you have heard it all. Forgive people. Be at peace with life.
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Kathy, good points. I would add to your recommendation that of weight bearing exercise, including the walking you recommended.

Also, be aware of osteopenia and osteoporosis and the recommended calcium levels as well as weight bearing exercises to counteract the devastating bone thinning effects.
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To add to gardenartist great advice, exercise. Lift weights so that when you fall you bounce rather than break. Falls are the number one reason people get placed in a nursing home. Walk, so your body works better, try for 3 miles 5 times a week, start slow and build. Read Dr. McCullough's "MY MOTHER, YOUR MOTHER" so you can plan ahead. Make your wishes clear to every child, about how you want to die, have the proper papers in place. Make a will, tell everyone involved, so there is no surprises. Lastly make friends, stay social.
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Speaking from another viewpoint, you can also protect yourself through healthy living habits (no, this isn't a pitch for spartan living!) If you eat them, cut out processed foods as much as possible, high sugar and high fat foods, grow as many of your own fruits and vegetables as you can, if you're able to garden.

Live healthier and longer and it will help you in your old age (Writing that, I almost feel like Mr. Spock with the Vulcan motto "Live long and prosper.")
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cwillie, great idea about moving closer to the doctors, shops, services. That is so very very important. I want everything within a 5 mile radius :)

When it comes to doctors, being in a metro area comes in handy, you have more than one doctor to choose for a specially. You have more than one Assisted Living and/or nursing home to choose. A ton of pharmacies. Lot of taxi companies if need be. And EMT's only minutes away.
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MaggieM, don't count on poor health as your easy out, my mother has careened from one health crisis to another, starting with major heart attacks and bypass surgery back in the 70's to sepsis from kidney stones in the 80's to macular degeneration and TIA's in the 90's and 00's; it only tempered her and made her stronger!
I bought a little home that could be easily modified in order to accommodate her now and myself in the future, and I have been putting money into upgrades like steel roofing today in case the money is less abundant in the future. I moved into town so we would be closer to doctors, and shops and other services less available in the country. My plan is to sell and move to an independent living community in the city at age 75, beyond that will depend on my health and finances. I have no kids, and although I have nephews and a niece I have no illusions about them taking care of me in the way I am caring for my mother.
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