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Be Prepared

Cambridge Neighbors encourages its members to live full and active lives by pursuing hobbies, socializing with friends, and attending cultural and educational programs. The Village also encourages its members to plan for the future, when the inevitable consequences of aging bring changes that require us to seek the help of others. There are documents to prepare and things to do now that can help ease that transition – for you, your family, and your friends.
Our Be-Prepared Agenda has five categories of recommendations:

1. Communicating with the Health and Legal Systems

Durable Power of Attorney for financial decision-making. This document assigns to the person you designate the power to act for you if you are suddenly incapacitated, allowing him or her, for example, to pay your bills and carry out other routine obligations and activities. You may specify the circumstances under which a power of attorney becomes effective.

Durable Power of Attorney for health care decision-making. This document, which can include advance directives regarding what medical treatments you do not want at the end of your life, will enable the person you designate to carry out your wishes.

Vital Information Form. In the event of a medical emergency, it’s important for first responders and emergency health-care workers to have easy access to your health-related information (chronic conditions, medications,allergies, insurance coverage, powers of attorney, etc.). Prepare a one-page form and store this information at home, where it can be easily found, as well as on the Web (for when you are away from home). For further information, see

Driver Retirement Plan. Make a plan that addresses the issue of when and under what circumstances it is no longer safe for you to drive, and discuss with your adult children and concerned friends. Don’t wait until you injure yourself or others in an automobile accident.

Last Will and Testament
. A “Last Will” is a legal document appointing a personal representative to take charge of your estate and distribute your possessions and financial assets in the ways that you specify. In the absence of a will, that function will be carried out by the local government. Everyone should have a will, however simple or complex their financial situation, to ensure that their personal wishes are honored.

Letters of Instruction and Information. While a Will is the principal legal instrument for managing your estate, it is extremely helpful for your family and personal representative to have documents that list your assets, the locations of important documents, financial account numbers, descriptions of your possessions, and desires regarding funeral arrangements.

2. Knowing How You’ll Pay for Long-Term Care

The experience of your parents and siblings will suggest how many years you may need to pay for personal assistance as you get older. A little research will reveal the averages based on gender, living habits, and chronic conditions. Most of us will require some form of help for some period of time, but it’s difficult to calculate in advance for how long and at what cost. Would a reverse mortgage be right for you? Should you purchase long-term care insurance? Are you eligible for Medicaid?

3. Making Your Home Accessible

Call CN to arrange for a home assessment that identifies needed repairs or replacements and an energy assessment that recommends ways to defend against seasonal loss of heat or cool air. For those who would like a full home inspection, CN recommends a professional service that includes photographs and explanations of needed repairs, inside and out. If you have difficulty walking, a professional can help by suggesting ways to make your home easier to navigate by removing rugs, rearranging furniture, or disposing of clutter. Should you plan home renovations, a professional can help you plan adaptations consistent with “universal design,” which includes a range of adaptations that facilitate accessibility for both oldsters and youngsters, and may add to the value of your house.

 4. Staying Well

Staying physically active, socializing with friends, exercising your brain – these activities all contribute to healthy living and aging well. CN offers a monthly calendar of activities and events, from scheduled walks to book clubs and more.

5. Getting Rid of Stuff

CN staff can help you find organizations that will take your used clothing; furniture; waste and files that require shredding.