Seniors Need a Plan for Dealing With the Maryland Winter
Early career professionals, as well as older folks in truly high-powered jobs, tend to come and go from the Washington, D.C. area with every change of presidential administration, but those of us who have lived here since our college days, or even longer, consider it home. The idea of retiring somewhere that is more than commuting distance from the mouth of the Potomac just does not appeal to us. Our plan to age in place here in the DMV seems like a great idea as long as the cherry blossoms are blooming and the summer sun is shining, but the winter brings reminders of why D.C. is not considered part of the Sun Belt. Some winters are mild, but longtime residents will remember the Valentine’s Day snowstorm of 2003, when the D.C. Metro closed down for five days, or the 2010 Snowpocalypse. When you are young, winter weather is annoying, but you can laugh it off once the sun comes out and the snow starts to melt. For elderly people who live alone, however, a cold winter can be downright dangerous. A Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer can help you build an estate plan that enables you to stay safe during the cold winter months.
Strategies for Avoiding the Cold and Its Hazards
It only takes one bad winter to turn you from a healthy, active senior to someone who can no longer live independently without a lot of assistance. Elderly people have a higher risk of suffering serious injuries if they slip and fall on icy or snowy ground, even if they were in excellent health before the accidental fall. Likewise, social isolation is terrible for seniors, both because loneliness and depression can worsen cognitive decline, creating a vicious cycle, and because it is harder to get adequate food and heating when you are all by yourself, snowed in, and already in a vulnerable state of health.
In temperate climates like we have in southern Maryland, aging in place is about more than building a bench in your shower and moving into a bedroom on the main floor. It also means having family members or professional caregivers with whom you are in frequent contact. Every year, at least a few seniors die from hyperthermia in their own apartments, either because mobility impairments or lack of cold perception prevented them from adjusting the thermostat or because they could not afford to pay for heating and had nowhere else to go and no one to call for help. It is a major challenge to go grocery shopping in winter weather when you are elderly and alone.
Even if you have your mind made up to age in place, it pays to have long-term care insurance or a hybrid life insurance policy that pays for long-term care benefits. This way, you will be able to afford to move to an assisted living facility if you decide that winter at home is too much for you.
Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About Estate Planning
A Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney can help you build a practical plan for aging in place. Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.