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12:25 PM Mon, Dec. 17th

What will happen if ...

PRESCOTT ­ While more people are living longer and planning for retirement, many do not consider how they want to spend their final years.

In light of longer life expectancies, the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic asked aging consultant Mary Mareck to discuss what a person should do when a loved one or friend is no longer capable of making important decisions.

According to an AARP survey, 67 percent of

parents have not told their children how they want to be cared for in their later years.

Mareck said early planning, such as pre-determining income, savings and health care provisions, allows individuals control of their situation when the time comes that they need to be cared for.

"It's important to tell our children what we want, what we need and how we want to be treated as we get older," Mareck said, adding that statistics show that there is a greater chance of incapacity than of death.

Mareck said a person planning for the future needs to determine where they want to live and with whom, if they want to remain in their current home, and how much help they will get from their family and their accessibility.

Other things to consider include existing medical conditions, drug coverage and the possible need for long-term care insurance, while acknowledging how the personality of the individual would react to particular living situations, she added.

Mareck referred to a list of advanced directives available under Arizona law regarding a patient's rights to make medical care decisions, such as a Durable Power of Attorney ­ a written statement where an individual selects who will make their mental health treatment or health care decisions when the parent can no longer make their own.

Other directives include a Living Will naming the specific types of health care they want or don't want when incapacitated and a Pre-Hospital Medical Care Directive refusing emergency resuscitation in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest and funeral/burial wishes.

Mareck said a person should put all the necessary documentation in one place, such as a file folder or notebook. The list of everything someone would need to manage your affairs includes: list of family members, attorneys, doctors; a list of assets, insurance policies, benefits and retirement funds, birth and marriage certificates; and a list of medications.

Less than 80 percent of baby boomers are able to describe how their parents want to end their lives, Mareck added.

Jan Skaggs, family caregiver program coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging under NACOG, said her organization encourages family care givers to keep loved ones in their home as long as possible.

"This is uncomfortable for everybody, but you need to talk about these things with your children and your family," said Alexa Garcia, community services coordinator for independent living consultants Care By Design.

For more information, contact West Yavapai Guidance Clinic at 445-5211.