By Lisa Pirihi – Accountabilities Coordinator for Parent to Parent
Developing a life plan, or future planning, for a child or family member with a disability helps to put things into place to ensure that the person has the best possible future, even as parents or caregivers age and are unable to care for them anymore. Planning for the future can cover many different topics, including living arrangements, friends and support networks and financial and legal issues.
Although it can be a difficult topic to consider and talk about (especially when day to day life is busy enough!), it is a stage of life that is best planned for, just as any other stage or transition is planned for. Talking about the issues involved and planning ahead means that when the time comes and changes do occur, these will be less stressful and cause less anxiety for all involved.
Future planning can involve many different people. Although it is centered around the family member with the disability and can include their input and decision making as appropriate, it can also include involvement from siblings, extended family members, friends, support workers and health professionals. Some of the benefits of involving others in future planning include:
When developing a life plan, it is useful to have a clear purpose or vision as to why you are creating it, along with clear communication and agreement between those involved in creating the plan. Any special communication needs of the family member with the disability will need to be considered and provided for. Some of the topics that could be discussed and included in the plan are:
This is of course not a complete list but just a starting point for the kinds of things that could be considered. The most important thing is just to make a start on thinking or talking about these issues – getting older is a stage of life (there is no denying it!), and making a plan for it will help to ensure the best possible future for our loved ones.
For more information on future planning please see the following article on the Care Matters website which discusses the topic in further detail, and includes links to many other useful websites and resources:
Our Support and Information team are available to provide you with more information if you would like to know more about this topic.