“Preparing ourselves and our adult children for our senior years requires psychological as well as financial planning,” Rodgers says. “Our generation firmly wants to be in control and not have decisions made for us.”

My wise and sensible husband bought long-term care insurance for us when we were in our mid-50s. It gives us peace of mind, and it’s a gift to our children. These insurance policies may seem pricey, but they can pay out more than $1 million in benefits. Insurance broker Kim Natovitz, founder and president of The Natovitz Group in Bethesda, says a couple in their 50s should expect to pay an annual premium of $4,000 to $5,000; a couple in their 60s will pay $6,000 to $8,000 per year.

As another gift to each other and our children, Chuck and I set up a program with our banker, Chad Gerber at SunTrust, that automatically updates our investment and retirement accounts and stores insurance policies, wills, advanced medical directives and any other documents and instructions we want to include, such as my long list of computer IDs and passwords that my sons tease me about.

My dad was a loving father who always had a good job, but poor financial decisions in his older years had a major impact on him and his family. I learned a lot from him, but the final lesson is a sad one: I can’t let my last act be this tough for my own children. Should something happen to my husband or me, all our kids have to do is open the Valentine’s Day cards we sent them this year, in which we provided the SunTrust ID and password that will lead to all the information they’ll need. This gesture may be financial and logistical, but it feels like love to me.

Ann Cochran (ann@annpcochran.com) is a writer based in Cabin John. She divides her time between magazine and newspaper features and corporate communications.


FINDING HELP

The following list is a combination of people and organizations the writer found while helping her father and, later, while doing research for this article. Of course, there are many more resources in the Washington area for helping seniors, and many of the people and organizations on this list can point you toward them. Consider this list a starting point.

Care Managers

Robin Henoch, Always Best Care, Potomac, 301-637-0233, www.abc-midmontgomery.com.

Susy Murphy, Debra Levy Eldercare Associates, Silver Spring, 301-593-5285, www.care-manager.com.

Carol Kaplun, IONA Senior Services, Washington, D.C., 202-895-9448, www.iona.org.

Care Management Associates, Bethesda, 301-320-9617, cmacares.com.

Elder Law Attorneys

William Fralin, The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., Bethesda, 301-214-2229,  www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

Cheryl Chapman Henderson, Law Offices of Cheryl Chapman Henderson, LLC, College Park, 301-220-4463, www.hendersonlaw4god.com.

Morris Klein, Attorney at Law, Bethesda, 301-652-4462, www.morrisklein.com.

Long-Term Care Insurance Brokers

Mark Gottlieb, Paladin Advisor Group, Columbia, Md., 301-332-4337, www.plan member.com/paladin.

Ed Hutman, Baygroup Insurance, Monkton, Md., 301-871-8100, www.baygroupinsurance.com.

Kim Natovitz, The Natovitz Group, Bethesda, 301-581-7333, www.natovitz.com.

Additional Resources

Montgomery County Aging and Disability Resource Unit, Rockville, 240-777-3000, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS/. This office helps seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers by identifying appropriate resources.

Montgomery County Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Rockville, 240-777-3369, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/hhs/.This office advocates for residents living in nursing homes and licensed assisted living facilities, including group homes.

The Senior Connection, Silver Spring, 301-962-0820, www.seniorconnectionmc.org. This nonprofit matches seniors with volunteers who take them food shopping or do it for them, accompany them to medical appointments, call, visit and help with bill paying.

The Aging Life Care Association (formerly The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), 520-881-8008, www.caremanager.org. This association certifies care management professionals. The website guides you to local care managers; you also can search by area if a parent lives elsewhere.

Loving Decisions, 301-571-5399, www.lovingdecisions.com. A Bethesda-based referral service for residential assisted living.

Meals on Wheels America, www.mowaa.org/findameal. This national organization supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs. Its website provides contact information for local meal delivery programs.

Mom’s Meals, www.momsmeals.com. Mom’s Meals is a national provider of meals that are shipped to the person in need.

Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook, which covers suburban Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia, is published by Greater Washington Publishing, LLC. It has many feature articles on topics about aging, as well as listings of metropolitan area resources and housing options.

Montgomery County Seniors’ Resource Guide, published by The Beacon Newspapers, has information for seniors and their families and caregivers, from adult day services to housing options to information for veterans.  

Iona Resource Guide, published by Iona Senior Services, a senior service and information organization in Washington, D.C., has information on adult day services, care management, assisted living options, hospice services, support groups and more.

Iona Senior Services Information and Referral Line, 202-895-9448, www.iona.org.

Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington, free senior helpline, 301-255-4200, www.accessjca.org.

Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, www.mdlab.org/get-help-services/elder-rights. Elder law services for low-income Maryland residents over 60.

You can download a list of attorneys who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and receive continuing education at www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accredita tion/index.asp.