The scout motto "Be Prepared" means being ready to face difficulties and even dangers by knowing what to do and how to do it. Life can throw many challenges at us as we age, and being prepared for the future can save many anxious moments, if we know what to do or how to find the appropriate help to guide our plans and decision-making. These tools and resources can be of help in thinking about future needs:
- Information and Assistance Programs
- Options Counseling
- Benefits and Insurance Information
- Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Resources
- Planning for Aging Adults Caring for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- Financial Planning
- Legal Services Assistance with Wills and Advance Directives
- End of Life Planning
Information and assistance programs provide general information and connect individuals to relevant health and human services. The most common type of assistance is an information and referral service that provides a list of potential service options and contact information.
In this region, all of our senior centers and family caregiver support program specialists provide information and referral and may in some cases provide short term assistance in sorting through more complex needs. To contact one of these agencies, please refer to our directory of funded partners.
North Carolina has an online system for information and referral, called NC Care 360, along with a call center of trained referral specialist. You can connect with an operator in NC by dialing 2-1-1.
To locate a multipurpose senior center or a "Center of Excellence" in NC, view the NC Senior Center Directory
Options Counseling provides guidance to individuals as they make informed choices about long-term services and supports. This service helps people think through the pros and cons of the various options while taking into consideration their situation, values, resources and preferences. The Options Counselor can also assist with making an Action Plan for the individual to implement on their own. NC requires Options Counselor to undergo a training program and a certification process. Many senior centers in our region have a certified Options Counselor on staff. Additionally, NC 2-1-1 also has certified Options Counselors available to assist.
Determining eligibility for benefits and selecting appropriate insurance plans is complex and ever-changing. Fortunately, there are a few helpful resources that can help point you in the right direction.
For general information on potential eligibility for various benefit programs, visit the Benefits Checkup website.
(El Consejo Nacional para Adultos Mayores, un líder nacional fiable que trabaja para garantizar que todas las personas puedan envejecer bien, ha lanzado BuscaBeneficios.org. Se trata de una herramienta en línea gratuita y confidencial en español que conecta a los adultos mayores hispanos con miles de millones de dólares federales, beneficios estatales, locales y privados para pagar los gastos diarios.)
For assistance with selecting Medicare plans, including Medicare Part D prescription plans, or for help with Medicare billing issues, visit the NC Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) or call and talk with a trained SHIIP counselor. Many of our regions senior centers have trained SHIIP volunteers and can set-up individual counseling appointments.
A number of drug companies offer financial assistance for those who do not have insurance or the resources to pay for medications.
One of the most critical things to consider in preparing for the future is being ready for the unexpected crisis or emergency. In addition to the unexpected, NC is frequently prone to severe weather outbreaks such as strong storms and hurricanes, tornados and ice storms and occasionally, even earthquakes have occurred. Each situation is different but generally, you should plan for the possibility of sheltering in place for several days or for evacuation and the all-important pet care during such an event.
Ready NC offers some preparation tips for older adults when it comes to planning for emergencies.
If you are a caregiver for a dependent adult, then you may need to consider preparation for yourself and your loved one carefully. It is important to have evacuation plans, medical and preference information written and accessible, and someone identified to step in, should something unanticipated happen to you. Resources such as AARP’s popular “Prepare to Care” guide can help you organize your important paperwork and information.
Caring for an individual with cognitive changes may require additional planning and thought, especially in case of extended sheltering in place or separation during an emergency or evacuation to a shelter.
This is another area where pre-planning is very important. Some individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have remained in the home with aging parents, with few formal supports. As parents age, the possibility of health changes may impact both parties.
TJAAA has partnered withThinking Ahead Roadmap the ARC of the Triangle and other organizations with expertise in development and intellectual disabilities to help families with joint planning for the future.
To learn more, download our brochure, “Mapping the Future”.
There are many considerations in planning for older age. This step-by-step guide can walk you through some of the financial decisions that one should think about now - Thinking Ahead Roadmap.
TJAAA has partnered with Legal Aid of North Carolina to provide basic assistance to adults in our 7- county region who are age 60 or older with creating or updating important documents such as a health care power of attorney or a simple will. To find out more, contact their toll-free intake line at 1.866.219.5262. Additionally, Legal Aid of NC offers a senior legal helpline toll-free at 1.877.579.7562.
One of the most important and considerate things one can do is to address end of life wishes and communicate those wishes to your loved ones.
Have you discussed your wishes with your loved ones? What about preparing the documents that will support your wishes?
There are resources and organizations to help you tackle these challenging conversations with your loved ones and to get started on plans for this important part of the life course:
- National Institute on Aging’s Overview of Advance Care Planning
- North Carolina Compassionate Care Partnership
- AARP End of Life
- NC Secretary of State Advanced Health Care Directives Registry
- Legal Aid of NC (self-help clinics and limited funding to assist qualifying older adults with preparing advance health care directive documents)