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Millennials: Find out now if your family has long-term care plans

If you're a young professional of the millennial generation, you've probably got a lot on your plate. High unemployment during the Great Recession, an average of $30,000 in student loans -- you've even redefined the American Dream as a life lived without debt.

Staying out of debt is a good way to protect yourself from uncertainty, of course. It's important to know, however, that it can't protect you from every problem -- especially when that problem involves another person's lack of planning.

Now's the time to find out what your parents' and grandparents' long-term care plans are

If your parents and grandparents are still living, you may not have considered asking them about their long-term care needs. That's reasonable enough; older generations are responsible for themselves, right?

While that's true, you could be in for some nasty surprises if you discover too late that their plans are inadequate or even non-existent. For example, if a loved one becomes incapacitated, you'll need a HIPAA release signed by that person if you want to access his or her medical records. That needs to be in place ahead of time, unfortunately.

If you really want protection from uncertainty, consider the story of one young woman who learned the hard way that her family wasn't prepared for a sudden health emergency. She describes her grandmother, 93, as a "mega Senior" who had always been healthy and independent.

"Did I or my family ever think that the 93-year-old matriarch of our family would get so ill so quickly? No," she told LifeHealthPro.com. Sudden pneumonia put her in the hospital for more than a week, which was frightening enough.

What happened when she was released was even scarier. She had clearly been improving slowly, and her release came as a bit of a surprise. Her cardiologist didn't ask the family about their care-giving abilities or give any instructions; he just gave them a bunch of drugs to take home and said she was to have respiratory therapy every six hours.

Once home, the family was required to administer all of the medical care required for a bedridden 93-year-old who couldn't move and needed 24-hour care. No nurse was sent. No home-use medical equipment was provided.

Don't let this happen to you. Take the time -- now --to ensure you know what the plans are and what to do in a healthcare emergency.

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