Are you getting together with family during the holidays? As odd as the idea may seem, these family gatherings – especially if you’re not physically together very often – might provide the ideal opportunity to have a conversation about a topic many families avoid: long-term care.
We ran across this article last week on the CNBC website, advocating just such a conversation (or more likely several conversations) during the holiday season. The article was prompted by a survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute that examined more than 1,200 adults over the age of 50. A significant number – more than half – told researchers that they were worried about becoming a burden to their families as they age. This perfectly matches our observations here at AgingOptions: in dealing with thousands of seniors, we hear this fear repeated time and time again. A big part of this fear of becoming a burden, the CNBC article implies, comes from ignorance about long-term care, combined with reluctance to discuss it and adequately plan for it.
“One of the big takeaways is that people simply aren’t having the conversation about long-term care,” said Eric Henderson, senior vice president of Nationwide’s annuity and life insurance business, quoted on CNBC. “The call to action is for people to start having the conversation and having it well in advance: What do they plan to do and how will they take care of it?”
The Nationwide survey revealed not only a great deal of fear about long-term care and its impact on families but also a deep apprehension about someday being institutionalized. According to CNBC, more than half of survey respondents with children said they were afraid that the cost of long-term care (whether at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home) would probably deplete any inheritance they had planned to leave their descendants. At the same time, fully six in ten said “they would rather die than go to a nursing home.” Needless to say, this combination of emotional and financial angst is going to create a communications challenge for most families. But, as the CNBC article says, “You can avoid possible future family discord by talking about elder care now.”
It’s no surprise to us that the CNBC report says 70 percent of survey respondents want to age in place, in their own familiar home surrounded by family. (We’ve seen other surveys that pegged this number even higher.) This is all well and good, but as we’ve pointed out many times on our AgingOptions radio program, only a relatively tiny percentage of American homes are actually suitable places for seniors to age safely, often lacking design necessities like one-floor accessibility, wide doorways and halls, non-slip floors, properly designed bathrooms and kitchens, and other essential modifications. Apart from securing the right physical surroundings, families need to have a serious conversation about mom and dad’s expectations regarding family caregiving: expecting an adult child to put their life and their finances on hold while undertaking the physically and emotionally draining tasks associated with part-time or full-time caregiving may be wildly unrealistic.
The CNBC article also showed that families are extremely ill-informed about the costs of nursing care. Among those in the Nationwide Retirement Survey who would even hazard a guess concerning costs, the average estimate was around $52,000 per year. That’s only about 70 percent off: the actual median price for a semi-private nursing home accommodation is closer to $88,000 annually. As we so often say, when it comes to preparation for retirement, families that fail to plan are in fact planning to fail.
So are the Holidays the best time to bring up what might be a touchy subject? Perhaps – that depends on your family dynamics and relationships. A better solution, we would suggest, is to contact AgingOptions and schedule a family conference early in 2018, led by one of our legal associates who is familiar with age-related issues and who can act as a trusted third party should the conversation become contentious. Another idea is to bring mom, dad and your siblings to an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar with Rajiv Nagaich. The only way for you to ensure that both you and your loved ones will enjoy a secure and satisfying retirement is by planning comprehensively, and that means you need a LifePlan from AgingOptions.
Only our LifePlanning approach blends financial planning with legal protection, medical coverage, housing plans and family communication, so that all the “retirement gears” mesh properly. This interdependent approach to retirement helps you protect your assets, avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, and escape the dismal trap of being forced against your will into institutional care. That’s the power of an AgingOptions LifePlan. To find out more, without cost or obligation, join Rajiv Nagaich at a free LifePlanning Seminar. These popular events are held throughout the region, so register here for the seminar date and time of your choice, or call our office during the week. Let us be your guide toward a fruitful and secure retirement – and better family communications as well.
(originally reported at www.cnbc.com)