"Carroll weaves her vast experience in long term care insurance and personal insights into the MUST-READ book! It is jam-packed with helpful information families and professionals need to know in order to make informed decisions about aging planning." —Annalee Kruger, President of Care Right Inc., and author of The Invisible Patient: The Emotional, Financial, and Physical Toll on Family Caregivers
Who’s going to be the physical, emotional, and financial caregiver in your family (no matter how you define family)? Few of us understand or are prepared for the breadth of lifestyle implications that come with that role. On the flip side, what if it’s you that needs care?
Meet the Jones family, a multigenerational example of how it all works in the real world. Follow Jodi and her family as they suddenly must deal with her parent’s extended care needs. Tension, guilt, and a lack of information start to impact Jodi’s health, happiness, job and family, relationships. Follow along as this multigenerational family uses my three-step process to create a Care Guide, a Care Squad, and a Care Planning Team. Learn how to establish a framework to start and continue conversations, minimize tension, and gain an overview of several planning options to fit almost any budget so you’re ready for tomorrow.
Fidelity's most recent Couples & Money Study found that 48% of couples disagree on the age they plan to retire, and that 2 of the most common ways people say they want to spend their retirement years—relaxing at home and traveling—are at odds with one another. The study also pointed out that couples who treat planning like a team sport are more likely to feel confident about their plan and more likely to agree on some of the hot-button issues. Be inclusive. Remember to include plans for funding extended care so it doesn't blow up your retirement plans or leave one spouse/partner without a agreed upon lifestyle. Don't leave anything—or anyone—out of your imagined future.
“In a new world of caring for an aging parent, the leading expert in long-term care provides a three-step framework for having difficult discussions and preparing the options ahead of time that will work best for your parent(s) and family. You owe it to yourself and loved ones to read this book!” -Betty Meredith, CFA®, CFP®, CRC®
Experience is an excellent teacher—but it can be a harsh master. We are living longer, and aging takes its toll on our ability to remain totally independent. No matter how you define "family," you will find yourself in the role of caregiver, caring for a caregiver, or being cared for by a caregiver. Life doesn't stop while you're caught up in caring and juggling your own life. With no real training for this multi-faceted, multi-generational role, you must find a path that doesn't destroy relationships or create financial havoc.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the 2023 Medicare Premiums and Copay/Deductibles. How much cash do clients have on-hand to pay the copays/deductibles that they may incur? For 2023= Inpatient hospital deductible for =$1,600 Daily coinsurance for 61st-90th Day = $400 Daily coinsurance for lifetime reserve days = $800 Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance =$200.00 Time for a discussion to avoid a nasty surprise.
It’s Holiday time and a good time to recognize that the nation’s 53 million family caregivers, who make up 21% of the population, need support. The 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, urges strong accountability and implementation efforts to turn strategy into action. The National Strategy includes: • Access to Respite Services: AmeriCorps Seniors will offer professional short-term care to help family caregivers take a break; • Support with Day-to-Day and Complex Medical Tasks: Offices throughout the government will coordinate with states to grow and strengthen the direct care workforce to help more family caregivers with caregiving tasks; • Inclusion of Caregivers in Care Teams: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will update rules to include family caregivers in the hospital discharge planning process; • Financial Education on Caregiving Costs: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will increase the availability and use of financial education tools on the costs of long-term care so caregivers can better prepare; • Better Identification of Family Caregivers: Government departments will pilot localized outreach to share information with family caregivers about the support available; • Research on the Needs of Family Caregivers: Interdepartmental efforts across the federal government will research family caregiving to inform evidence-based policies
Autumn is a season of transformation. Traditionally, it’s the first day when the air is crisp, when deciduous trees put on a show -- with a burst of color — greens transform into yellows, oranges, reds, purples, and browns. It’s a season when we are reminded to let things fall away to make room for reflection on the seasons of our own lives. Fall is a season of harvesting the fruits of our labors and taking stock. It’s a time to sharpen our pencils (yellow #2 or electronic) as we send our younger family members off to school. It’s time for every generation to settle in with hot cocoa, enveloped in their favorite comfy clothes, and a good book- it’s a time to reflect and learn. After the hiatus of the last few years, this autumn many families and friends will gather to celebrate birthdays, time-honored holidays, and traditions. Many families and friends will notice and reflect on the changes the passage of time has made on older family members and friends. Take this time of change to plan for what lies ahead. (Autumn’s) golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life. —Lin Yutang, writer and inventor
A 2020 report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, based on the survey of 37,000 people aged 50 and older conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, found that 60% of respondents said their work was impacted by the pandemic. They found that elderly Americans surveyed did not alter their retirement expectations significantly as a result of the pandemic, including planned retirement age and Social Security benefit claiming age. The study examined whether there was any difference between the planned and expected retirement ages of those impacted by the pandemic vs. those who were not impacted and found no statistical difference between the two groups. Both groups largely plan to retire at about age 66 but expect to actually be able to retire at age 69. “Retirement expectations determine retirement intentions, and retirement intentions predict retirement behavior,” the report, authored by Zhikum Liu, senior research associate at EBRI, said. “Individuals who want to maintain their desired standard of living when retired will need to accumulate sufficient financial assets with careful preparation and have a more realistic retirement age projection before actual retirement…” Otherwise, we can expect the caregiving population to explode as people are unprepared for the costs of retirement, especially as it relates to health care costs.
It is difficult finding yourself in a caregiver role for which you are not trained. The increasing shortage of available physicians, especially specialists that are often required by aging parents and partners, is alarming. As the impact of longstanding demographic and other trends driving the physician shortage continues to grow, physician appointment wait times will increase thus increasing caregiver stress. “Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey,” stated Tom Florence, president of AMN Healthcare’s physician search division. Though the analysis looked at major U.S. cities, the wait times are likely worse elsewhere in the country…” The AMN Healthcare 2022 report cited a couple of important reasons. • In 1997, Congress placed a cap on funding for physician training, limiting the number of new physicians entering practice each year. The cap was lifted in 2021, but funding was provided for only 1,000 new training positions, far short of what is needed. • Changing physician practice styles. More physicians are choosing to work as employees rather than as independent practice owners. According to the 2018 Survey of America’s Physicians, employed physicians see 12% fewer patients on average than independent physicians.
Don’t wait until right before you are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid to incorporate the costs into your retirement budgeting. Prices for medical services generally are set in advance creating a delay between wage and cost increases caused by inflation and prices for medical services. Medicare and Medicaid are setting prices based on what they predict inflationary and cost pressures are going to be,” said Corey Rhyan, senior analyst of health economics and policy for Altarum during an August 24, 2022 presentation at The Health Wonk Shop: Health Care Inflation in the U.S. ”They predicted for 2021 and 2022 that those cost pressures would not be as extreme as they ended up being. On the private side, those prices are set on the basis of negotiations. That’s why the sharp cost increases in 2021 and 2022 have not yet been reflected in health care prices.” Nursing home and community care organization payments have fallen and average wages are growing, so that’s something to look out for,” noted vice president and director of the Program on the ACA at KFF.
Not forever, just for the next few months. My daughter, a young adult, had extensive foot surgery. We were not prepared for what followed. I'm now her full-time caregiver. She’s not permitted to walk. There is a 36 pound cooling machine to drag up to her bedroom and then back downstairs every day. She's in pain. I suffer when she suffers. My work and personal life is upended. I can do emails but only once I get her settled…at around 9 PM every evening. I am definitely not at my best. My co-workers have been terrific! They cover my absence but there are relationships, presentations, strategy meetings, etc. that I attend while not at my best! Some friends also pitch in. They bring food and stay with my daughter when I run errands. My additional full-time role? Her adorable, affectionate puppy. I’m not accustomed to all the care required for a dog. The energetic playtime, the walks, the carrying upstairs, the scheduled veterinarian visits, the feeding, the grooming and the wonderful cuddles and puppy kisses. I stopped going to the gym. I’m not eating regular meals -especially not nutritious ones. I sleep with one eye open in case she or the pup need me. Who knew?I admire caregivers- it’s physically, emotionally, and financially very demanding.
A recent paper from The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College called out risks that people likely will encounter as they retire. The paper addresses five risks that may affect the lifecycle of a typical retiree household. Learning about options to offset these risk are basic to planning for extended or long-term care. • Longevity Risk – The risk of living longer than expected • exhausting financial resources • negative impact on family/friend caregivers • Health Risk – Retirees can face: • unexpected medical expenses • long-term care needs and expenses since as one ages out-of-pocket expenses rise quickly. • Market Risk – Risks include: • market volatility, such as selling during a downturn • housing market volatility and accessibility. Most retirees want to age in place but may need to downsize or remodel their home • Family Risk – This can include: • divorce or death of a spouse • children becoming ill or unemployed • family members becoming caught in the ‘sandwich generation’ • Policy Risk – • social security is the primary income source for many retirees. According to the Boston College paper, the program’s trust fund reserves are projected to be depleted by 2035 and people may experience a 20-25% benefit reduction after that. • Many retirees depend on Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, Supplements, or other government programs which are expected to undergo modifications
While aspects of the rule were already in effect, on July 1st, regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor that expand liability for financial advisors who give pension rollover advice went into effect. Many advisors already explain the pros and cons of rollovers but now they must provide rollover clients with a written explanation indicating the specific reasons as to why the investment professional and/or financial institution believe that the rollover is in the client’s best interest. Advisors who carefully explain the risks and suggested allocation of the transferring funds will likely create a long lasting relationship with the client.
Preliminary results from LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey shows total U.S. annuity sales grew 22 percent to reach $77.5 billion for the quarter. According to the release, “this marks the highest quarterly sales ever recorded” since LIMRA started tracking monthly sales in 2014 LIMRA notes. Investors are seeking investment protection and steady growth. According to Todd Giesing, assistant vice president, LIMRA Annuity Research, “Our research shows fixed-rate deferred annuity manufacturers are, on average, offering interest rates more than four times that of a bank CD, which has made these products a tremendous value for investors looking for protection and growth potential.
The Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 report presented by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute shows that the majority of caregivers (61 percent) are still female. Significantly, a larger percentage of women (67 percent vs. 59 percent of men caregivers), are the primary or sole provider of care and provide a high intensity level of care for more hours per week than non-primary caregivers. As a result, their life balance equation becomes seriously out of balance. Most families/friends don’t recognize or acknowledge the increasingly difficult situation until the caregiver already experiences negative consequences. A nationwide staffing shortage and the effect of being a sole or presumptive caregiver are so widespread that some states are looking at ways to provide caregiver support. Minnesota for example, is making it is possible to provide personal care for loved ones and get compensated for it. There are several options for becoming a paid PCA in Minnesota. However, there are a few specific things that are not allowed, such as providing any type of medical services. A newer Hawaii law provides workers caring for older friends or family members with up to $70 a day, Benefits Pro reports. The stipend is available to those who work at least 30 hours a week and also have caregiving responsibilities.
What’s in a Name! We all want to enjoy a long life and we want to do it in a familiar setting-the one we call home. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are one option popular with older adults. However, according to LeadingAge and Mather LifeWays, the owner and operator of several CCRCs, what’s in a name counts! Lots! “…CCRC no longer did an adequate job of creating the best perception among tomorrow’s older adults,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix. The results indicated that the words “continuing care” suggest a setting where older adults are cared for rather than a setting that also fosters growth and new experiences. The new name, Life Plan Community was the result of the culmination of the CCRC Namestorm process—its name a play on the word brainstorm—that began almost two years ago. In fact, 84% of prospective residents aged 65 or younger said they preferred a name other than CCRC for the category. So, chose your words carefully!
Many of us are not natural planners. We often put off doing today- what tomorrow we wish we had done. We all do it! We often do better when we plan with the help of others. It could be a mentor, a parent, a teacher, an agent or advisor who educate us or inspire us to plan for our tomorrows. We are always so grateful when planning saves us from avoidable, unwanted consequences. We all have memories from childhood and hopefully not too many from adulthood, when we admonished ourselves for not planning. Longevity is reality. We certainly understand why we need a plan to deal with health care issues.….but what if our health is not as good as it once was. What’s the plan? What about lifestyle and safety needs? What about financial needs? What about generational relationships?What’s the plan? One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.— Henry Miller
Arranging care or providing care for a parent is the ideal environment to start off infighting among family members. It can blow up lifelong relationships, or worse lead to costly lawsuits. Too often, the lack of a plan leads to stress and discord. Too often families think if they ignore it, it’ll go away. Bulletin: The conflict doesn’t go away. It festers. My three step plan creates a thoughtful structure that reflects the family’s mission and values resulting in a more collaborative and private resolution. Each step fosters inclusivity instead of exclusivity by offering three structured steps and actionable information creating multiple generational opportunities to communicate in a constructive way. An advisor may serve as a mediator or facilitator to encourage cooperation and timely planning.
According to Margaret Bonnano, it's only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. Ms. Bonnano — best known for writing a series of "Star Trek" novels between 1985 and 2010 — proposes that life should not be considered an abstract concept. Instead her simple but poignant observations suggests it is the aggregate of how we spend each of our days. It creates our present, past, and future. Why is it that we have such a difficult time acknowledging and planning for longevity issues. It reflects the natural order of the universe. While it is never too early to plan for extended or long-term care, it is often too late. Her statement is a powerful motivator — a reminder not to waste any time.
Aging-in-Place is now on everyone’s budget list. Affordability is a key, strategic element. According to an Association of Community Living article, updated February 18, 2020, the average number of years people who need in-home care is 2 years. The ‘average’ cost called out in the 2020 article is $62,000 per year. For most individual’s budget, $124,000 spread out of a couple of years would impact both their lifestyle and retirement plans, those of their spouse or partner, and those who may have to help provide for that care. Let’s note that the costs probably do not reflect the realities of caregiver and trained staff shortages that became evident during the pandemic. As indicated in my book, figure out financial assets or obligations in order to organize potential ‘can and cannot’ age-in-place scenarios for yourself, spouse, or parent. This except, with a fuller list of questions in the book, will kickstart creating an overview or help to fill in the blanks on a budgeting tool.
David Foster Wallace wrote, “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” Any caregiver or family dealing with or planning for extended and long term care issues would quietly nod in agreement. That truism is the inspiration for my book. Starting the conversation may be difficult but continuing the conversation to a create financial, physical, and psychological solution is even more difficult. The 3 Steps in this book offer a program that fosters communication, if not cooperation. Like any successful undertaking, the goal is to prepare for what’s ahead. Without preparation and planning, there is no control. Why risk blowing up multigenerational lifestyles, relationships, and retirement plans.
More and more, home is seen as part of the continuum of care as many of the nation’s 72 million baby boomers intend to age in place. That presents several planning/funding challenges. Historically, housing design did not take into account the aging process. Renovations can be costly as can hiring help and aids when needs arise. Alternatively, you can consider moving your parents into your home. But that presents a whole different myriad of complications. Let’s just stick to the practical. Before the pandemic, just 6% of employees worked primarily from home. Post pandemic, home can be where we work, go to school, talk to doctors, do our shopping, work-out, and socialized. So where do you find extra space in the post-pandemic home? While new and old technologies helped us to quickly adapt to the new “home,” they did not provide the additional space for multigenerational living. The solution is to plan-in-advance for aging-in-place, especially if that you define ‘place’ as your home environment.
According to WTW, a global advisory, brokering, and solutions company’s 2022 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey, 73% of respondents said that their biggest challenge is delivering on their promises over the next two year due to increasing healthcare prices. Many employers will be relying on virtual care as a large piece of their “lowering healthcare cost plan.” Ninety-five percent indicated that by the end of 2023, they’ll be offering virtual care for medical and behavioral health issues with sixty-one percent expecting to offer lower cost sharing for virtual care. And 55% said they believe upping their virtual care game will help decrease costs in the long run, and another 50% think it’ll improve outcomes. Employers, employees, and retirees will need to prepare for this challenging and evolving delivery landscape. Will everyone embrace visual care as it becomes more mainstream. How will care recipient's prepare for these challenges and how will rising cost of health care affect care options? Simply put-everyone needs to create a financially stable plan to cover healthcare costs- now and in the future.
Creating a financially stable plan for extended or long-term care needs means understanding the associated costs for care. Everyone, especially after what we all saw during the COVID pandemic, decidedly would prefer to age at home. According to industry information available at www.McKnights.com, increases in salaries from the executive level to all other levels of the workforce are on the rise. Most providers are willing to pay significantly higher salaries than just a year ago. That’s good news. We trust these employees with the well-being of our loved ones and, traditionally, they have not been rightfully compensated. On the other hand, that translates into an increase in the cost of care and likely continued increases for some time to come. This requires a review for those who have a plan. It becomes a real issue for those without a plan. This informative is instructional but also sobering. All of us need an extended or long-term care financially stable plan.
The insurance industry creates products and programs in response to consumer demand. A rider is an insurance policy provision that adds benefits to or amends the terms of a basic insurance policy to provide additional coverage. Insures must meet established regulatory, legislative, and tax code requirements. Respecting established rules and regulations, insurers have created ‘riders’ which incorporate flexibility. The products that have ‘riders’ are designed to serve two needs or offset two risks. Riders may come at an extra cost—either at the time when premiums are established or when the payout for the rider is determined. This is an area where advise from an agent or advisor is a must.
When considering planning for individual or family income needs during retirement, the cost of Medicare may not be top of mind. However, Medicare premiums can escalate dramatically-especially with higher incomes. Currently, it can be as much as 240% higher than the standard rate. The premiums are based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) from two years prior which is when many retirees reach their peak earning level. Regardless of a retiree’s earning level before retirement, expenses associated with Medicare should not be overlooked in planning for retirement income needs. Planning to have Medicare cover extended and long term care expenses in retirement is not a plan and will exacerbate income shortages if care is needed.
Today’s advisors need to include a discussion about the costs associated with living longer in retirement. For many people, that may also include additional costs associated with being a caregiver which may negatively impact their ability to save towards their own retirement. In our story, Jodi’s life is slowly taken over by the increasing care needs of her parents. After working through the 3 Steps and having their advisor serve as a facilitator, Jodi gets her parents the type of care they need, at a cost they can afford, in a setting of their choice. When she suggests to her children that she doesn’t want them to be caught in the caregiving sandwich generation, they, at first, panic and assume she is ill. It’s a real struggle for younger generations to understand the positive role early long-term care planning plays in a secure lifestyle and retirement. After visiting a site that estimates a person’s longevity, the Care Planning Team begins to understand why the best time to plan is now.
It's Spring! A time when many of us consider growth-not just of gardens and flowers but also growth for securing our future. According to the Devenir 2021 Year-End HSA Survey, plenty of people are doing just that. Americans had invested more than $100 billion in more than 333 million health savings accounts as of the end of January 2022. As the Care Planning Team (CPT) discovers, a Health Saving Account (HSA) is a very effective funding mechanism for health-care costs. And, importantly, if money is withdrawn for qualified long-term care expenses, the growth and withdrawals are tax-free.
The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention. When we are thrown into a situation, without some preparation, we may overreact and overreach. Is there anything in life that doesn’t work better with a little preparation? When it comes to financial matters, that is certainly true. An extended care event will impact your cash flow unless you are otherwise prepared. You need cash flow for daily living expenses, you need cash flow for family/friend events and vacations, and you need cash flow for saving, investing, and financing activities. In our story, members of the Jones family are quickly seeing the value of financial preparation for extended or long-term care needs. Fortunately, members of the Jones family are in their working years. Some of them take advantage of a saving plan, called a Health Saving Account (HSA). HSAs are a type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. It’s part of the Jones family preparation since they can use money from their HSA tax-free to pay long-term-care insurance premiums, with the maximum annual tax-free amount based on their age. Like most financial instruments, they need to understand all the requirements so their Care Planning Team will look into the pros and cons.
In our story, Jodi is her parent’s caregiver. Aside from the effect it’s having on her overall well-being, she overlooks how the demands of caring for her mother are already negatively impacting her ability to advance her career. Eventually, like so many caregivers, she hasn’t even thought about the complications if her father also needs care. She also hasn’t thought about if something were to happen to her husband and she was no longer covered under his plan, she would need the salary and worksite benefits attached to her own employment. How will she manage if care duties result in her voluntary or involuntary termination. Aside from the consequences of losing her employee benefits, long term she jeopardizes income dedicated to her envisioned retirement lifestyle since she will likely not have funds to contribute to an employee sponsored or personal retirement savings plan. An additional financial consequence is the negative impact that the lower or absent income will have on her eventual Social Security benefit.
To quote George Elliot, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” The basic drive to nurture manifests in the care and development of our children and young friends. But what happens when our parents have care needs such that they become our children? Women of all ages and ethnicities are major providers of long-term care in this country. Eventually, they may have long-term care needs of their own. It is well documented that women tend to live longer than men, tend to outlive their spouses, and generally have less assets in retirement savings. Additionally, the substantial high cost of providing for someone’s care needs and the demands on a caregivers’ time and health are, in many cases, immeasurable. The only relief from the negative side effects attached to caregiving is to plan in advance. In our story of the Jones family, lessons learned resonate with Jodi, the caregiver, as she engages her family to create a plan so when the parent/child equation becomes upside down, they are generationally prepared.
As we live our lives, we make many choices. Some are driven by family upbringing and generational events, others come from what we learn along the way, and others are forced upon us. We experience things that we enjoy. But what about things that bring us joy? Turning a very difficult conversation or experience into something that offers us peace and family harmony is the overall purpose of the Three Steps. In the Jones family, using the 3 Steps, they find a way to help Grandma and Grandpa age in their own home. Even though the family only managed to work through the first 2 Steps, they were better prepared for the harsh wake-up call when Grandma fell and got hurt. Once the emergency passes, family members needed to get back to their own lives. Step 3, the Care Planning Team (CPT) helped them do just that. During this step, they discover options that will work- and some that financially or due to underwriting won’t work. They also discover some side benefits of working together-and the results brings them joy.
Peace may be defined by your state of mind, your state of being, or by the state of global affairs. Globally, we now are experiencing the end of ‘abundance thinking’ due to supply-chain disruptions, the pandemic, and the situation in the Ukraine. At least 70% of communication between ourselves and others is non-verbal. Observe how quickly children sense stress and anxiety without any real understanding of the issue-at-hand. Adult generations do the same. So when a family caregiver responds with ‘I’m fine,’ other family members know otherwise. So, how do you prepare? In the story of the Jackson family, we see this family has used 3 Simple Steps to work out a plan for her parents that relieves caregiver Jodi of her deteriorating health, negative career and financial impacts, and family stress. Lesson learned combined with the recognition of the end of abundance thinking, Jodi wants to create a plan. She wants to create ‘peace’ within her own family regardless of the stress that comes with illness, aging, or state of mind. Jodi kicks off the meeting by sharing the social security online estimator which offers the average number of additional years a person can expect to live. While she cannot control the global situation, her goal is to create family peace and harmony.
Each year, on March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. This Global Day of Recognition celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality. However, there is one thing on the horizon that can impede a woman’s advancement of her dream of a successful career and a financially stable lifestyle. It’s a loving thing. She puts her life on hold in order to take care of a parent with extended or long-term care needs. As we see in our story about the Jones Family, due to the pandemic, the family has not gotten together for some time. They decide to do zoom birthday celebration for Grandma Carolyn. The family is shocked to see how unstable Grandma has become and how much aid Grandpa James must offer her. Like most families, the Jones don’t discuss the grandparents growing care needs. It’s a difficult topic. But for Jodi, the consequences that ensue are gradually derailing her career goals, her health, her financial plans and her wellbeing.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do” wrote H. Jackson Brown, Jr. who credited the statement to his mother, Sarah Frances Brown. When it comes to planning for extended or long term care, those words certainly ring true. A lack of planning has immediate consequences and possibly consequences that will reach 20 years into the future. Nowadays, planning options are expanding and there is a growing marketplace that offers many choices and planning tools. Get educated and get planning!
Recently, an advisor mentioned to me that he and a colleague are using the book as a basic “textbook” to become familiar with limited, extended, and long-term care options. It’s part of fulfilling their fiduciary obligation. The links, charts, diagrams, and footnotes allow them to dig deeper so they have the ability to work more effectively with their client. The story of the Jones family provides a human context to the data and information, especially when shared with a client…which is exactly what they are doing. It’s a less invasive way of creating a practical approach to a ‘taboo’ topic.
I heard someone use the term “Lovevolution.” Of course, it had to do with associating the month of February with celebrating love. The expression reminded me that we seem to continually invent new terms of endearment. On the other hand, actions speak louder than words. Gifts will always be a welcome sign of affection, so why not plan to give the gift of unity and harmony. Typically, when someone gets hurt or needs immediate care, everyone wants to take charge and help. That’s a loving gift, at least in thought. In practice, it often results in panic, confusion, and blame. In our story, Grandma Carolyn, unsteady on her feet, takes a fall. Grandpa James tries to break her fall and they both tumble to the ground. Participating and helping at a time of need is a loving action. So, everyone rushes in with suggestions. The results can be very chaotic. Step Two of the Three Simple Steps uses a simple diagram to create a Care Squad which assigns every generation a way to express their love and devotion. Let’s see how the Jones’s family made out.
Valentine's Day is meant to celebrate anyone you love and cherish. Take a second to think about who really matters to you. Take a moment to think about how those you love in each generation interact with one another. Sometimes we don't even notice or acknowledge that a family member is singly handling the emotional, physical, and financial chores of caring for someone they love...someone you love too!
Winter has long been considered a time to hunker down. It’s a time to take stock of where you are in your life’s journey. For some, winter promises fun times, building snowmen, marshmallows happily bouncing in a sea of sweet hot chocolate bliss, a long overdue conversation while you relax by a warm fire. For others, as Shakespeare wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” Vehicles sliding out of control, colds, Omicron, slips, and falls. In our story of the Jones family, while at a get together Grandma Carolyn slips and falls. Grandpa James tries to break her fall- and they both tumble to the ground. The challenge is how to handle this unexpected care need. The atmosphere on the zoom call is one of worry and discontent, no matter the season.
We often use this time of year to walk backwards through our lives where we revisit all kinds of things we should have done, glad we did do, will never do again…well, you get the picture. But what about the future? Envisioning our future selves is more of a challenge. We know things will change; they always do. We also know that our health will determine, to a great extent, what will be written in our future life chapters. Sometimes we forget that the health of those we care about, will also become part of our new year’s stories. This year, think about the unexpected, serious care needs that the last couple of years of the pandemic inserted into our lives. How would you better plan, better prepare for extended and long-term care needs? Whether sudden or gradual, it changes and alters the future that we envision. Explore your options and then seek out a professional advisor who can help you envision possibilities for a more financially secure future.
Each Year, as January ushers in the new year, we are encouraged to take time to reflect, reaffirm, or adjust our values as manifested in our everyday lives. As Alex Haley explored in his work, “Roots,” “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” Though family can be complicated, those ties can tell us a good deal- about ourselves, as physical, psychological, and societal beings. When the pressures of extended or long-term care needs for family members start to become part of our everyday lives, without a plan, families can find themselves gradually torn apart. Everyday activities may become disrupted, work schedules may become jumbled, and leisure time may all but disappear. As we see in this story, extended care needs also impact family members future retirement plans. Knowing how to approach planning for family members care can offer a more financially stable bridge to the future.
Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. William Durant, author of this statement, had an uncanny ability to synthesized complex philosophy concepts and historical events into digestible narratives. The science behind the aging process is complex and very personal. Do we use the wisdom we gain from available science and knowledge to better organize, prepare, and stack the deck for more positive outcomes as we age ? In our story of the Jones family, we see that they narrowly escape having Jodi’s life overtaken by caring for her aging parents. Based on the realities that come with her parents aging and care needs, she works with family members to create a suitable plan for her parents to age in their own home. Jodi, all the wiser from the experience, suggests that she and her husband consider a “redo” for themselves. She doesn’t want her children caught in the ‘sandwich generation’ syndrome. She has learned that using Three Simple Steps will lead to a plan that looks at available planning options which work in tandem with their current financial life. Getting their future care lives organized now will be especially effective in helping to create a financially stable future for her, her husband, Jackson, and by extension, her generational family.
Sometimes you need to alter life a bit, like a new shirt that just needs a small alteration to make it fit better, to make it fit you better. It’s January, a month well-known for setting New Year’s resolutions. Are you resolved to alter your life a bit! There is a good deal written on how important it is to set manageable goals. Many people who succeed in achieving their goal create a plan which involves looking to family and friends for support. The problem is that without a goal that includes a plan for care needs as we age or become ill, family and friends may look to you for support- which was not part of your plan. It actually interferes with your goal. In this story of the Jones family, Jodi finds herself giving up her goal. She was working towards a promotion as a step towards her long-term goal of insuring a financially stable retirement. Instead, she finds she has become the “presumptive caregiver” since her parent’s goal is to age and receive care in their own home.
One of the greatest regrets that we hear from people is that they didn’t live lovingly enough; that they didn’t invest their time and energy in the hard work of protecting their generational family. We need to ask ourselves; do I have enough heart for those who support my life journey? At the end of the day, we’re more likely to regret a busy life lived too carelessly - that is without caring for those who cared for us. Not every road is laid out for us. We have to believe we can move forward together and take the first step. But it’s not always easy to find a way forward-even with good intentions and a caring heart when it comes to planning for limited, extended, and/or long-term care. Visit with the Jones family and see if their journey leads you to a more physical, psychological, and financially stable plan for those you love….including yourself.
How Not To Tear Your Family Apart offers Three Simple Steps to position the advisor, wealth manager, agent, attorney, or specialist as the interpreter of options to prepare for extended or long-term care needs. The Steps invite multiple family generations to work with a professional to fully explore the options offered during the fictional family’s quest to understand how different options prepare different generations to plan for extended care needs. It is the fiduciary responsibility of professionals to help clients understand how to protect their future from the unwanted consequences of not planning for care needs. As the Pandemic illustrated, being unprepared for unexpected care needs, as well as those that come with aging and longevity, can create stress that tears lives and careers apart. This story book offers three steps to guide these difficult but necessary conversations.
Welcome 2022! Ringing in the New Year is an excellent example of the power of positivity. For many of us, while it coincides with some of the darker, chillier days of the year, it also represents a reason to focus on the future. Many of the great turning points in life are reflected in future plans. Plans are usually reached through incremental steps and solidified through gaining new knowledge and insights. Importantly, knowledge is often filtered by generational and behavioral finance attitudes. We look at events and information that influence our future plans through personalized lens. It’s a real struggle for younger generations to understand the positive or negative role that planning for extended and long term care needs can have on multiple generations. 2021 highlighted the importance of family support and teamwork when an unplanned health event, such as a Pandemic, occurs. Planning helps to avoid any individual family or friend from shouldering the burden of providing care while juggling their own responsibilities. Let’s Plan-Not Panic in 2022!
Ringing in the New Year is an excellent example of the power of positivity. For many of us, it coincides with some of the darker and chillier days of the year, yet it also represents a reason to focus on the future. As we reflect back, 2021 was, arguably, the worse year in recent memory. Globally, we saw how smart and not-so-smart decisions end up defining our lives and the lives of our family and friends. Many of the great turning points of life are reached through incremental steps and solidified through gaining new knowledge. Importantly, knowledge is often filtered by generational and behavioral finance attitudes. In other words, we need to look at the opportunities to plan for our futures through our own lens. It’s a real struggle for younger generations to understand the positive role that planning for extended and long term care needs can have on multiple generations. However, 2021 highlighted the importance of family support and teamwork team-work when an unplanned health event occurs. Planning helps to avoid any one person shouldering the burden for others.
Jodi was fast becoming the family’s “presumptive caregiver.” She stopped exercising, eating right, sleeping through the night, started to neglect personal relationships, and was passed over for a promotion. She knew things would only get worse. Is there time to plan or is it too late? It is such a hard conversation to have…….Are you Jodi or has someone you love taken on that role? As Alexander Graham Bell said, ”The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.” I have created three simple steps to help you and your family take action. If the subject of aging and care is taboo in your family or circle of friend, then just discuss the Jones’s family journey. As Yoda said, “In a dark place we find ourselves, a little more knowledge lights our way.” Extended or long-term care needs and costs can upset your life and the life of those you love.Those conversations are not easy to have but the reward is a fuller, richer, and more peaceful life for everyone.
As the seasons change, we embrace the youthful exuberance of the early summer light, the shortening days of fall, the colder, dimmer warmth of winter’s light that eventually gives way to the brightening days of spring. It’s a natural progression. As I learn to enjoy or find solace in each changing season, it reminds me that we also have seasons. We prepare for nature’s changing seasons but we are not so quick to prepare for our own natural changes as we move through the seasons of our lives. While it’s never too early to plan, it's unwise to find yourself unprepared. Just as a snow shovel in summer can’t do you much good, the wrong plan or no plan won’t do you much good. Now is the best season to become educated and plan for the later “seasons” of your life.
November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month. Experience is an excellent teacher but it can be a harsh master. Families, no matter how you define family, already come loaded with lots of built-in dynamics. Now is a good time to become familiar with options that may avoid physical, psychological, and financial stress. We are all getting older (that’s the good news) but remaining independent may not always be possible. My three simple steps helps you to create a game plan. You will be able to plan more effectively as a family and with advisors. Gain an overview of how you can prepare to “help,” not “handle” both the challenges and rewards and support both current and future caregivers and care recipients. Don’t tear your family apart when three simple steps can help you create a plan that personally works for you and those you care about.
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