Aging with a Disability
We all age. People with disabilities face many of the same issues as the rest of the population over 65 years old. Virginia Medicaid Waivers want to keep individuals in their homes as long as possible. Some of the fears the aging have could be: being left alone in an assisted living facility never to be visited, or experiencing dementia with no supports to keep them safe. Person-Centered Planning is based on a variety of approaches and tools to organize and guide life planning with individuals with disabilities, their families, and friends so they can enjoy a higher quality of life.
Things to Keep in Mind:
Many long-term care needs for aging adults with disabilities are provided for via waivers. These include medical costs, personal care, respite, PERS, adult day care, and health care. Family members can act as paid attendees, with the exception of spouses and the parents of minor enrollees.
To see if you might qualify financially for Medicaid via a waiver, see When Does Medicaid Pay for Long-Term Care.
Preparing to Age at Home:
Being at home in the comfort of your own surroundings with loved ones is a desire of anyone. Setting the foundation for this possibility is a must. Financial planing is necessary, which could involve a family member, peer mentor or lawyer. Having access to simple devices to keep individuals with disabilities safe, such as large-button phones and front door telecoms, is great for mental well-being.
Emergency planning is a factor in keeping individuals with disabilities safe as well. Many states have registries to help them plan for evacuations. Telling the what your medical needs are, can help them plan transportation and shelters.
Visit Virginia Easy Access to find out more about emergency planning.
Establishing family care for an aging adult coping with a disability requires extensive planning. Legal considerations are vital from the beginning to ensure both the aging adult and the caregiver is properly protected throughout the care relationship. These considerations include:
Power of Attorney – this is a person who you authorize to act on your behalf. Your agent is then able to make important decisions for you and perform specific actions in your stead. These activities can include signing checks, filling out tax returns, signing contracts, running a business, buying or selling property, and managing bank accounts. The capabilities of a power of attorney are limited by the designations made when the document was put forth. These designations are specified to your individual needs.
Durable Power of Attorney– this type of arrangement is essentially the same as a regular power of attorney. The only difference is the duration of the relationship. Unlike a power of attorney, which ends when you are incapacitated or at the time of your death, a durable power of attorney continues even if you become incapacitated. This type of arrangement is often considered a critical element of estate planning.
Advanced Directive – this is a document that provides the durable power of attorney control over your medical decisions if there comes a time when you cannot make these decisions for yourself. This document allows you to record your wishes and opinions pertaining to medical treatments, artificial life support, and resuscitation so the proper arrangements can be made if these situations arise. Review this directive to begin putting your plans into place.
Topic Specific Resources:
Coping with disease is a common issue for aging adults. These issues can complicate care needs, making it necessary to rely on further resources to ensure access to proper care and support that create high quality of life. Review these resources for information related to specific diseases and concerns.
- Alzheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
- Cancer: Cancer Support Community; Guidelines for the Treatment of Elderly Cancer Patients; National Comprehensive Cancer Network
- Cardiovascular Disease: American College of Physicians; Mayo Clinic; WebMD
- Depression: American Psychological Association; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); WebMD
- Diabetes: American Diabetes Association; Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC); Mayo Clinic
- Hypertension: American Heart Association; Manage Hypertension Online; Mayo Clinic
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation; Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Obesity: American Obesity Treatment Association; American Public Health Association; Obesity Society
- Osteoarthritis: Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality; Arthritis Foundation; CDC
- Osteoporosis: Mayo Clinic; National Institute on Health; National Osteoporosis Foundation
Further Support and Resources:
Providing supportive, personalized care for an aging adult requires a tremendous amount of support both for the aging adult and the caregiver. Look to these helpful resources for find a variety of programs and groups that offer help, support, and information to guide you through the care-giving relationship and provide continued quality of life for your aging loved one.
- American Geriatrics Society
- Caring for the Caregiver
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Habitat for Humanity
- Meals on Wheels
- Money Follows the Person
- National Council for Aging Care
- National Institute on Aging
- Person-Centered Planning
- Senior Navigator
- Home Care Delivered
- Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care (VAHPC)
- Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
- Virginia Senior Services
- Personal Emergency Response Systems
- Senior Living