Planning for the Future
A few years ago I had a sudden, unexpected health crisis when one of my knee replacements became infected. It required quick surgery and several months out of work. While I had some savings and a good support system, I wished I had planned for this kind of emergency better.
Ever since my recovery, I have taken gradual steps to prepare for a health crisis or sudden emergency. While I can’t pretend to be ready for everything, my hope is that with a bit of planning and preparation a decline in my health or other surprise can be cushioned by some forethought.
As I age with rheumatoid arthritis I know that my abilities have slowly decreased and can only logically predict that they will continue to do so. This is an upsetting thought and hard to accept. But if I can plan for my future now, perhaps I can make life down the road a little bit easier on myself and my loved ones.
Here’s some steps that I think are helpful for my future:
- Increase my savings. Not only am I saving for my retirement, but I am saving for a “rainy day.” When I had to be out of work for several months for my knee revision and fighting off the infection, I was fortunate to have short term and long term disability insurance coverage. These funds were helpful, but did not cover all expenses. So now I am saving for a time when I need financial support for medical bills or other surprises that may be in my future.
- Create an advance directive. This is paperwork that tells your loved ones how you want decisions made, should you become incapacitated. I was able to find free templates online that I could download and complete. I have a copy filed at home, but also had discussions with my husband about what I want and what is important to me. My feeling is that I don’t want there to be questions or stress, should I become unable to make my own health decisions so a little advance planning helps my family in case of this kind of emergency.
- Write a will. Although I don’t have much, I also don’t want there to be any conflict or question about my worldly belongings should I suddenly pass. Again, I found a free template online and filled in my wishes. A will needs to be co-signed by others as well. For me this paperwork makes my wishes clear and hopefully creates less stress for my loved ones.
- Create an accessible environment. While this is a current and ongoing practice, I’m often trying to think how I can make my life easier now and well into the future. If I am saving my energy and taking stress off my body, how can my home accommodate these needs? For me this means having my helping gadgets in convenient places, using a motorized wheelchair to get around, and other adaptations in my home and life.
- Thinking ahead about possible future needs. Although I am fairly self-sufficient, I know that may not always be the case so I am thinking about what kind of help I may need in the future. I don’t really have clear answers or plans, but it is something I am contemplating so that when I need to make plans I am ready to do so. For example, I may decide to get some periodic help at home or move to a community where more help is available so that my husband has support in any necessary caregiving.
What would you add to this list? Appreciate your insights on planning for the future with RA.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?