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Is your family prepared for a late-life health emergency?

Planning for retirement is often equal parts stress and excitement. Where will you travel? Will you have time to visit with children and grandkids? Finally, you might have time to enjoy your favorite hobbies and activities without worrying about work or other obligations. At the same time, you'll also need to consider what might happen if you have a medical emergency.

The chances of a medical emergency that requires a high level of care -- or even long-term care -- tend to be greater if you already suffer from a chronic condition, but such emergencies can happen to anyone. When planning for later years, it's a good idea to think about what you want to happen in such a situation and how you or your family will cover the costs.

Document your wishes in an estate plan so your family knows what you want even if you are unable to tell them. It's also a good idea to talk with your adult children or other close family now about these matters to avoid surprises should they come up in the future.

Financially, you might consider options such as long-term health insurance and Medicare and Medicaid planning. Often, with the right insurance and planning decisions, much of the cost of such care will be covered. Another area to consider is who you want handling matters for you should you become incapacitated.

Finally, make a simple list that includes some emergency information on it. Information might include names of your health care providers, medications and instructions for your home and pets in an emergency situation. Some of those things are common sense, and working with an elder law attorney can help you plan for the more complex issues of aging.

Source: National Caregivers Library, "Planning for Emergencies," accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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