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Iowa State University Extension

New initiative helps Iowans make decisions about long-term care

couple considering future needs

As Iowa Baby Boomers become retirement boomers over the next 20 years, one issue they’ll need to address is their own long-term care. Needing long-term care is a normal part of aging for many people — yet they often don’t properly plan for the possibility that as they age they may need assistance with daily activities. That’s why ISU Extension is a partner in Own Your Future, a new initiative to help Iowans plan for their future needs.

It’s an effort between the State of Iowa and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Own Your Future provides information and resources on planning for long-term care, financial and legal issues in retirement and related topics.

In August more than 400,000 Iowans age 45 to 65 received a letter from Gov. Chet Culver encouraging them to start planning for their future long-term care needs now, rather than waiting. Culver’s message included instructions for ordering a long-term care planning tool kit.

ISU Extension county offices throughout the state have brochures available that describe the Own Your Future initiative and include a postage-paid card to request the tool kit, said Cynthia Needles Fletcher, an ISU Extension family resource management specialist. Iowans also can order the kit by calling (866) 752-6582 or download it online.

“We will grow old,” Fletcher said, “and the data show we need to do a better job of preparing for it.”

Besides, the earlier people start planning for their long-term care needs, the more options they have available, Fletcher added. Long-term care includes a variety of services and supports to meet health or personal needs over time. For example, someone who gets assistance at home with everyday activities like bathing, dressing or eating is receiving long-term care. People can receive long-term care while maintaining independence and control over daily living.

The Own Your Future tool kit includes information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and deciding whether to modify a home to improve safety for daily activities or move to another home that can better meet future needs.  Legal and estate planning are discussed, as are financial planning for long-term care. Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care insurance also are explained.

This article appeared in September 2009 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter