“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” – Unknown
How many of you know of someone who needs to be checked on, cared for, or is in assisted living? Getting older can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, we can experience the world and loved ones longer, but we may also need assistance with many of the things we now take for granted.
In Finger Financial Five fashion here are a couple stories and some things to think about….
I was walking in my neighborhood and a lady drove by and stopped her car. She said that she was having trouble with her TV and asked if I could help. I did not know her, but she was a neighbor. I met her at her house and looked at her TV. Her TV was stuck on football, she says. I took a quick look and it was worse than I thought, it was Georgia football (kidding). She had bad batteries in her remote. I changed them with the extras she said she had in her kitchen. She was lonely and wanted to talk. She said her friend across the street went to a nursing home and she was lonely. I asked if she ever went to visit her, she said no.
Number of things here to think about as we age:
Who are you going to have lunch with?
Who is going to change your batteries?
I talked to her about nursing homes. She said she did not want to go. No surprise here. Surveys show that 88% of people 65 or older want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. My aunt was one of those people, until a fall forced her into an elder care facility. She would have never gone, otherwise. She ended up liking it. Here is why:
Social – You are immediately put with people who are like you. Many of the nicer facilities have activities daily for socializing, like Mahjong, cards, or bingo, just to name a few. She had people to have lunch with her each day.
Safety – You have staff that can help you if you fall or need help changing the batteries in your remote.
People can visit easier. They can drop by anytime and it does not feel like an imposition.
The staff can prepare your meals and medicine.
Much of elder care is taken care of by the children. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, some 30 million households care for an adult over the age 50, and that is expected to double in the next 25 years. Many people between the ages of 40-60 are “sandwiched” between taking care of aging parents and paying for their children’s education. Add that on top of saving for their own retirement.
How to prepare when you have aging parents? Have a conversation…
Elder care conversations can be challenging for every family. Some tips are:
Have priorities. Consider what is making the conversation necessary now. Make a list of the most important issues. Refer to these issues if the conversation does not go as planned. Having diagnoses and recommendations from their physician, would be a great resource to have, as well.
Be inclusive. Discuss the topics with family members and get their input.
Be calm. There may be denial or anger. Bring in a mediator like their friend or a member of their clergy. This could help the conversation go more smoothly.
Be honest. Truthfully share your concerns and fears. If safety is your main concern, share that and discuss other options that are available. Who could assist and how often.
Have a plan. Bring a notebook and be ready to assign tasks and delegate responsibilities. Who will do what and in what priority. My mom took notes with my aunt and I took a picture of the notes, and texted it to other family members, so we were all on the same page. This brought clarity to who does what and who gets what.
Remember, one step at a time. Not everything can be covered in one conversation. Keep communications lines open, as issues arise and need to be discussed.
For an aging parent who REALLY wants to stay home, make sure you ask yourself if medical needs are being met and the quality of ongoing care can best be monitored.
Topics for anyone who is dealing with the aging process are:
Financial – How is the care going to be paid? How long can they afford to pay?
There should be an assessment of the income and assets to pay for healthcare costs and ensure that care remains uninterrupted. Many clients set up auto drafts to pay the assisted care facility monthly.
You can set up duplicate statements sent to the family member to monitor expenses or charges. This helps double check to make sure bills are paid and late penalties are avoided.
Make sure you have the proper legal documents to make financial decisions (see Legal below).
Remember to get details of the personal assets. You can take a notebook to list items or do a video from your smartphone.
Review the insurance policies and investment accounts. Do they have proper beneficiaries? Titled correctly?
Technology assistance – Can your loved ones use Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype to communicate? This can help with checking in with them. You can also consider a health monitoring system or GPS tracking devices. There is plenty of technology available, at reasonable cost, to monitor the conditions and safety of loved ones without being on site all the time.
Legal – Your loved one should designate a health care agent or health care proxy and grant someone power of attorney over financial matters, in case he or she becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. Talk to your loved one about whether he or she has will or other estate documents in order. Don’t forget charitable requests (discuss with your financial advisor or us to see which assets are best to give to charity). We prefer our clients to keep these documents in a secure digital vault. That way permission can be granted and easily retrieved. Review trust and estate planning documents for accuracy. Make sure beneficiary designations are up to date.
Is government assistance available? AARP provides an online screening tool to figure out if your loved one qualifies for any of the 15 most important public benefits. If they served in the armed forces, they or their spouse may qualify. Check the National Council on Aging to see if they qualify. Click here.
Caregiving can be taxing, emotionally, physically, and financially. AARP reports that 81% of caregivers found their own depression worsened while caregiving. Meanwhile, 91% of caregivers in fair or poor health suffer from depression. Remember to take care of yourself. Consider hiring an elder care manager also known as geriatric care manager. They work with families to create a comprehensive senior care plan for families to follow. They can help alleviate some of the burden on the caregiver.
My mom took care of my dad, after he had a stroke, until he passed away over a year later. She was a nurse and physically fit. We still needed to hire people to give her a break.
On the lighter side, Elliott has a relatively light school schedule, so he is getting a job! If you go to Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood on restaurant row in Myrtle Beach, he may be the one showing you to your table. If he does not do a good job, please let me know. I will make him WALK THE PLANK! 😊
The Retire Happy Podcast has started. Click here for the first few episodes. Feel free to subscribe!
Hope all is well with you and your family,
Finger Financial Five – 5 points in 5 minutes or less – is to provide you with a weekly shot of useful financial information. My intention is to share principles, so that you will have more clarity and peace, that help you make better financial decisions.
Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor; DBA Riverbend Wealth Management.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and provided by Riverbend Wealth Management. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Stratos Wealth Partners and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.