Plan ahead to provide for your future wishes and decisions

Planning ahead for future stages of your life when you may not be able to make personal decisions

When difficult changes happen in your life it can be hard to work out who should be responsible for your affairs and your care if you don’t have your wishes specified in some way. Should you somehow become unable to make these decisions for yourself, planning ahead for legal, health and financial decisions can help with the process of respecting your wishes.

Why you should plan ahead

If your circumstances change and you can’t make decisions, your wishes can be laid out clearly so you can be assured that these and your rights are respected.

By not having the planning ahead documents in place others, such as a court or tribunal, may make these decisions on your behalf, which could be against your wishes.

And it’s definitely better to have your planning in place as if you make decisions and you’re found to not have the ‘capacity’ – meaning the ability to make decisions – these decisions may not be legally recognised.

When you should plan ahead
It’s easy to go along thinking things will look after themselves, but as time goes on we may become less able to control the decisions about our care, finances and wellbeing that can really impact on us. Anyone over 18 should consider planning ahead if they have capacity.

Although we’re living longer and remaining healthier, many of us will nevertheless have a period of increased dependence and potentially a loss of decision-making ability. And at any time if you are struggling to manage financial affairs or healthcare decisions, you can appoint people or organisations to help.

 

How you can plan ahead

Ways you can make sure your future wishes are respected are through:

  • Advance Care Planning
  • Appointing an Enduring Guardian
  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Writing a Will

These steps might require some discussion with family members, medical advice from your doctor or healthcare professionals, and legal consultation with a lawyer or solicitor to ensure your plans are legally sound. But taking these few steps will make sure that in the event of incapacity or inability to make necessary decisions, your concerns and wishes are addressed, and that you plans are able to be put in place.

Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointing an Enduring Guardian

An Enduring Guardian, along with Enduring Power of Attorney, can allow you to guide decisions in the future about your care, health and lifestyle choices which you may not be able to make yourself, if you lose that ability. It’s a good way to plan for the future, and will only be in effect during periods of incapacity.

An Enduring Guardian should know your values, beliefs and wishes as they have the authority to make decisions about things like:

  • Where you will live
  • Your general health care matters and medical consent
  • Support services you receive, such as meals-on-wheels
  • Who you may have contact with or who can visit you
  • Day-to-day issues

Your Enduring Guardian’s rights to make decisions are limited when it comes to property matters, financial matters, and even certain special healthcare areas such as tissue and organ donation, which is where Power of Attorney may help.

http://www.advancecareplanning.org.au has a guided path to cover the Advance Care Directive process

Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document which legally appoints someone to manage your finances and affairs; they can even sign legally-binding documents on your behalf. If you lose the capacity to make these types of decisions, a court or tribunal may appoint someone to take control of your affairs if you haven’t made appropriate plans for this.

You can appoint Power of Attorney at any time, but for planning ahead purposes, it’s best to get things in place while you have the capacity to make these decisions.

Although generally there are ongoing fees for managing affairs, in NSW for example, Power of Attorney preparation services are provided free for people eligible for a full Centrelink Age Pension through the NSW Trustee and Guardian.

Preparing a Will

Having a Will to describe how you would like your assets distributed when you pass away can be a great benefit to your loved ones. Your Will sets out who will receive your assets, and appoints someone – the executor – to deal with the distribution and settling of affairs regarding your estate.

It’s fairly easy to make a Will setting out your wishes, and having a Will can bring a lot of peace of mind when planning ahead.

Being able to make rational decisions is a requirement of making a Will, so plan ahead and have a Will in place to ensure your wishes are met.

If you don’t have a Will in place, like almost half of all Australians, your preferred beneficiaries may be left out and your estate may even pass to the Government.

A Will is easy to make, but is a legal document and needs to be completed accurately to be legally binding. It’s best to have one drawn up by a professional, or the Public Trustee in your state can also assist in the process.

 

Planning ahead for future stages of your life when you may not be able to make personal decisions is something to address as early as possible. Putting these few steps in place can avoid a great amount of difficulty if we later lose the capacity to make necessary choices.

It’s important to note that all of these plans may need to be documented or noted and kept in a safe place – you’ll need to let the necessary people know how to access these plans if and when the time comes.

The Trustee for your state can help with planning ahead advice, and there are many other sources or help from support organisations.

There are some resources listed below which can help you plan ahead, and it doesn’t take much to have your rights and wishes respected if needed.

 

The NSW Trustee and Guardian have a booklet available online which can help you plan ahead.

In Victoria, try State Trustees for a wide range of help.

In Queensland, the Public Trustee can be found at https://www.pt.qld.gov.au

Wills – http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/family-and-community/wills-and-powers-of-attorney/wills

 

 

 

Lower your cholesterol naturally…free from prescription drugs

Excerpt from Cholesterol lowering drug free

We’ve all heard that high cholesterol is a risk to our health.

Lifestyle and dietary decisions, especially modern ones, contribute significantly to the risks of having too much bad cholesterol in our bodies.

Bad LDL cholesterol and good HDL cholesterol can affect us in significant ways. Foods with good types of fats actually work to lower our LDL cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance needed by your body to help build cells, help produce vitamin D, to make adrenal and other hormones, and contributes to other functions for our health.

The body actually produces its own cholesterol, so we don’t need any from our diets. But this is complicated by foods that we eat that contribute to the levels and types of fat our bodies take in and process.

We do need dietary fats, with recommendations suggesting they should comprise up to 35% of our diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are now known to be good for our health.

But the two not-so-good types, trans-fats and saturated fats, contribute to raising bad cholesterol, LDL, and can be problematic to our health.

The list of risks of having high LDL cholesterol is concerning:

  • arteriosclerosis
  • heart attack
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • breast cancer
  • declining kidney function
  • damage to DNA
  • inflammation
  • lower back pain
  • sexual dysfunction
  • type 2 diabetes

Cholesterol-lowering drugs have been shown to be less effective than previously thought, and may actually increase health risks through their side effects. Muscle pain, liver damage, increased Type-2 diabetes and neurological effects are all linked to these drugs.

Improving our cholesterol balance through changes to our diet and lifestyle is now considered the ideal way to minimise the health risks of LDL cholesterol.

Changing diet along with having sufficient exercise shows the most effective results. Being overweight increases the amount of LDL cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream.

But just changing our diet can be very effective. Increasing our intake of mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAs) and avoiding or at least minimising our intake of trans-fats, saturated fats and cholesterol-rich foods can produce some amazing health benefits. This can lead to:

  • improved cholesterol balance
  • lowered risk of heart disease and stroke
  • reduced risk of breast cancer
  • reduced belly fat
  • weight loss
  • lessened effects of rheumatoid arthritis

All foods from animals contain cholesterol, whereas food from plants does not. Red meat, dairy products, chicken and eggs are all dietary sources which contribute to higher level of bad LDL cholesterol.

Fruit and vegetables, along with whole grains and beans not only contain no cholesterol, but some of these work to actually lower our LDL cholesterol levels.

Beans such as lentils, red and black beans and soy beans are plant-based sources of protein which can help lower LDL cholesterol, and also help lower blood sugar, and may even help lessen cancer risk.

Eating more foods containing monounsaturated fat, such as:

  • avocados
  • olive oil
  • almonds, cashews, brazil and pecans nuts, and
  • macadamia nuts

can help provide the dietary fats our bodies need, all the while helping to reduce bad cholesterol.

Other foods which can help are cold water fish rich in Omega-3 oils – like salmon, trout, herring and sardines.

Increasing whole-grains in the diet, such as

  • oats and oat bran
  • barley
  • peas
  • sweet potato and potato

and lessening white flour and processed white flour products like white bread, cake and biscuits, can be particularly effective at lowering LDL cholesterol.

By treating cholesterol problems with a healthy approach, we may be able to lessen or even avoid the need for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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