“You live your life the way you want.” That’s how Ecumen’s vice president of business development recently described the company’s philosophy regarding the experience of all seniors who live in one of their communities.

That’s what we all strive for, right? Housing, support, services and eventually care that are all driven by what we want for our lives; guided by decisions we’ve made about what’s best for us and our families.

But that quote – “live your life the way you want” – also got me thinking about something we all try to avoid: Will there be a point at which, no matter how much support I have, I won’t really be able to live my life the way I want? What then? I don’t foresee a situation where I will want to need 24-hour care or be limited in my physical or mental abilities to make my own choices – but none of us knows what the future will hold.

Fifty may be the new 30, and 80 sure isn’t what it used to be – but none of us can outrun the clock, and at some point we will need help. In fact, statistics show that if we make it to age 65, 80 percent of us will need some type of long-term care.

That’s why it’s so important that we – as individuals, families, communities, lawmakers and care providers – are honest about the realities of growing older and talk about the full spectrum of needs and choices we’ll eventually face.

Those choices might start with adding some help and services to make life easier and safer or moving to a new community that provides companionship and new adventures. Eventually, it could include tough choices about how and where we want to live out our last days.

What do you think? Do you talk with your spouse or family about how you want to live your life into old age? If you’re a provider, how does the “live your life the way you want” philosophy makes its way into your organization? What can lawmakers do to support the full spectrum of long-term care options?

 

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