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Life Health > Long-Term Care Planning

Turkey, Pumpkin Pie and the Long-Term Care Conversation: LTCI Insider

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What You Need to Know

  • The holiday might be a time for adult children, nieces and nephews to ask questions.
  • Home maintenance, bill-paying and scams should be on the agenda.
  • You could host part of the conversation.

This is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and Thanksgiving itself can do some of the work of getting your clients to think about long-term care.

If your clients are planning to spend time with aging parents and relatives during the holiday season, that can be a great time to observe and ask if loved ones are prepared and have plans in place before a long-term care crisis occurs.

Why should clients do that?

Because most of us want to stay at home as long as possible, instead of rushing into an assisted living facility or nursing home.

But even home care is expensive, and the cost of care will continue to increase. Are your clients aware of the impact of aging?

The Statistics

Studies indicate that, as we age, our risk of dementia will drastically increase between the ages of 65 and 85.

Over the next 10 years, one in every three people will likely become incapacitated.

Other family members will be affected by the need to provide care.

This could include time taken out of work to provide needed supervision and even caregiving for a parent in crisis.

The Client Advice Strategy

To come up with ideas about how agents and advisors can help clients start conversations about this topic, I turned to Kristina George, a wealth manager at Northstar Financial Planning.

She recently completed a new professional designation, the Elder Planning Specialist Designation, which educates financial advisors about how to help clients and their families design a comprehensive aging plan.

Here are eight key questions she suggests that families discuss while loved ones are still in good health.

1. What challenges in their current living situation do the aging family members foresee over the next few years?

These may include privacy, control, safety and avoiding isolation.

2. What are ideas for meeting those challenges?

The discussion could cover transportation needs, in-home support, and issues with the safety of finances.

3. Since many seniors want to stay at home as long as possible, are any repairs needed to make the property safe?

Do aging family members have a trusted handyman?

4. What resources are available?

Can adult children assist, or are they across the country?

What kind of community assistance is available?

Is a team of professional advisors in place?

5. Do the aging family members need help with understanding investments, medical coverage and medicines?

And what about transportation to medical appointments?

6. Can family members help the aging family members with tax filing and bill paying?

Or does the client need to find a trustworthy resource, such as a daily money manager, or a personal bookkeeper who is bonded and insured, to help with this?

7. How can they simplify tasks and processes?

This could include getting others to help with home maintenance, or perhaps downsizing.

A home organizer can be helpful to work with.

8. How can your clients prevent exploitation?

This is a major concern.

Every year, all employees at Kristina’s firm participate in the AARP BankSafe program, which helps financial institutions prevent elder scams.

She suggests having a family care plan to share information about how a parent’s resources will be used for medical needs and home improvement, such as railings and ramps.

Are checks and balances in place so one adult child isn’t able to divert the parent’s funds?

Does the family have a team of caring people involved?

Steps to Take

Kristina provided these suggestions for insurance and financial professionals who are having conversations about long-term care planning with clients.

Document the meetings and conversations.

Stress test clients’ financial plans for alternative scenarios involving medical expenses and the need for long-term care, either at home or in a facility.

Explain the benefits of having a long-term care policy.

Recommend that a long-term care specialist be involved with crafting the plan.

Hold a family meeting with the adult children by Zoom and provide information about an aging parent’s resources and challenges.

Your clients’ children should know and trust you as their advisor long before any medical crisis arises.

Know who the decision makers are in the family; you’ll need consensus to get anything done.

Margie BarrieMargie Barrie, an agent with ACSIA, has been writing the LTC Insider column since 2000. She is blogging about long-term care planning with Chris Petillo, and helps produce an LTC podcast series at Faegre Drinker’s LTCi Summit website.




(Photo: Marjory Collins/Office of War Information)


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