Financial Planning for the Elderly: Assisting Clients & Their Caregivers

It’s no surprise that with age, seniors often experience increased limitations, the loss of certain abilities and require more assistance with the activities of daily living. It is equally unsurprising that one’s finances largely influence the types of services and long-term care available to that individual. An experienced financial planner for the elderly can provide seniors and their families with invaluable advice on money issues and more, to help seniors find the appropriate solution to their particular situation. Some of the questions a financial planner can address include:

  • What type of long-term care can I afford?
  • Will I outlive my assets?
  • How much are my assets worth?
  • Can I make my assets create more income to meet growing expenses?
  • What do I sell first?
  • What are all my options?
  • What is the cost of selling different assets?
  • Do I have to sell the house?
  • Are there other financing alternatives?
  • What impact will this have on my spouse and dependents?
  • Is it too late to do any estate planning?
  • What about inheritance issues?

Listening to Your Needs

Financial planners can assist you in understanding and evaluating your decisions, which will help you avoid confusion, frustration, major errors and family dissension. Financial decisions are more than about just money—I know from experience how difficult it is for everyone involved. Making major financial decisions can be even more daunting when you don’t have the detailed knowledge, experience, time or ability to handle them. What are the potential impacts and benefits of making one decision over another? What are the requirements to execute such decisions? Financial planning for the elderly begins with acknowledging and considering all present and possible future situations you might encounter. This can be very difficult as it requires both forward thinking as well as transitional realism. By “transitional realism,” I mean being realistic about your changing needs, and the impact of those needs on your life as well as the lives of your loved ones. When evaluating your needs, a financial planner should consider:

  • Personal care—do you need assistance with activities of daily living?
  • Services—what types of long-term care services do you require?
  • Safety—are there specific concerns regarding safety?
  • Transportation—are there physical or financial considerations?
  • Priorities—what are your limitations and desires?
  • Interpersonal relationships—how will financial decisions affect your loved ones?

Assessing Your Needs

Following is a list that comprises the elements you should consider in identifying and evaluating your needs. You may want to think about these things before talking to a financial planner to ensure the time you spend in conversation is well spent. If you have questions about any of these elements, a financial planner who works with the elderly will be well versed in all of these issues and should be able to address any concerns.

  • Financial needs
  • Insurance coverage and limitations
  • Income sources
  • Expenses (present and future)
  • Assets availability
  • Real estate needs
  • Human resources—health care, personal and quality-of-life issues
  • Legal concerns

Assessing Your Resources

After you’ve identified your needs, think about the resources that you will need, and the ones that you already have at your disposal. This will help you develop a plan of action. Make a list of the following resources that you might need:

  • Public resources, including prepared food services, community activities, religious and charitable assistance/support, etc.
  • Private resources, including family members and/or caregivers
  • Service providers and advisors

Planning can make a huge difference in finding the best solutions. Knowing all of your needs and resources is paramount before making any major financial changes. Financial decisions generally should be holistic in nature, therefore recognizing that everyone—seniors and caregivers—all have different needs and resources, unique to their particular situation. Making financial decisions based only on your present situation, without full consideration of everything, can have disastrous results.

Helping to plan your future—

Suzanne Wolfson

Editor’s Note: for more about financing long-term care, visit Duane Lipham’s expertcorner.