As the population of our country ages and lives longer, we are seeing more situations where we are working with our older clients (and often their adult children) dealing with cognitive impairment and related issues. Often, we are the first to see this as a result of our deep relationships with our clients and the fact that their children are scattered across the country. My recent personal experience, along with some work I am leading through the AICPA, have helped to confirm the importance of addressing this area.
My mother is 85 and was recently diagnosed with Dementia. Until early this year, she continued to live in a very old house on a 35 acre farm in Baltimore County. After my father died four years ago, we talked regularly about downsizing from the house she lived in for 60 years, but she did not want to make this change. With her diagnosis and actions, it was clear that she could not live alone so we moved her in with us. With some other health issues, we realized that she would ultimately need to be in assisted living, but when she very suddenly lost all of her vision, the timing was greatly accelerated. With no long term care insurance, not much savings outside of her home and land, we needed to do some careful planning for her in the short and long term. Luckily, we had convinced her to sell her condo at the beach which she has had for many years, so she has some cushion for a few years of these costs.
So what can you do to avoid this?
- Develop a plan to downsize from the big house you raised your family in long before you are “forced” to do so. Doing this at age 85 or later, after health issues arise, just does not work. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) offer a great environment and provide that continuance of care that is often needed as we age.
- Have an ongoing financial plan that takes into account as many contingencies as you can. Think about what can go wrong with the plan and always use it to make decisions along the way. Helping adult children financially can have a significant adverse impact on your own assets that might be needed for your care in the future.
- Consider Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) and how it might fit into your plan. Newer LTC policies have features that pay for in facility or in home care, good inflation protection, and limits that you can evaluate whether they fit with your budget and goals.
- Do all you can to stay healthy and stay ahead of health issues. This might involve having your children present with you at doctors’ appointments as you age; it is always great to have a second set of ears and eyes to understand how various issues affect your health.
- Discuss your planning with your children at the appropriate time. You need to have everyone on the same page to make good decisions for the benefit of the entire family. It is never easy to talk about these areas of planning, but it is certainly easier before it becomes urgent.
My Mom will be fine, she has a great extended family locally who are very involved with her care. We have found a good assisted living facility and are coordinating care providers and various doctors. While we can’t control all of our circumstances or health, good planning throughout your life can help to make the process much easier. Don’t become a burden on your children, think about some of these decisions long before you are in crisis mode. Let us know if we can help you with any of this planning.
The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.
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