By: Matt Meyer
Matt Meyer, co-founder at The BluePrint Insurance services is a contributor for Nasdaq.com. The below article can also be viewed at Nasdaq.com. Please click here.
Most long-term care planning conversations usually start with touting the numbers and statistics. They want to make the case that we are living longer, so the greater the chance you will need some type of long-term care. And as we know, this type of care can be expensive. While those statistics are accurate, we think looking at the numbers doesn’t tell the real story of why planning is so important. This article is going to take a different approach. We will discuss why “your story” and the “story of others” is so important. Everyone we know has their own story of a loved one or friend that needed care. This is the reality of something that you cannot see in a statistic. It can be an excellent motivator for people to take action and plan to address an uncomfortable issue that will likely affect many of us.
What’s Your Story?
Nearly everyone we talk to has their own story about long-term care. Mine is about my grandmother, who spent the last year and half of her life in and out of nursing homes. The last six months were spent in a hospital bed in her living room, with her care being met by a rotation of her children and an occasional nurse. Long-term care was not a real thing until that point. It was just a term I associated with some "old people" who get sick (or just old) and eventually pass on. Living and seeing it changed my perspective and the perspective of my entire family. When we talk about starting the long-term care planning process, we think it’s best to make it personal. What is your story? What did you learn from your story? Long-term care planning is not just about thinking through financial aspects but non-financial as well. Where do you want to receive care? Who will provide it? Who will help make decisions if you are in a situation where you cannot help yourself? These are just a few questions that are at the foundation of creating a sound plan.
Perspective from Others Story
Working with financial advisors and their clients has given me a glimpse into many people's lives. These advisors typically bring me in to meet with clients that have expressed an interest in long-term care. When I meet with them, one of the first questions I ask is, “why.” Why is long-term care on their mind? Why are they thinking about it now? The answers I get vary but below are the most common. I believe it is essential to hear other people's perspective as it might help you understand and plan your situation.
1. “I don’t want to be a burden to my family.”- Having a plan can help mitigate how much you will have to rely on your family. For my parents, after being on the “living room rotation” with my grandmother, this was their motivation. They loved being there for her but caring for someone carries a different stress and uncomfortable moments than just spending time with your loved ones. Even if your plan is for your family to care for you, it is crucial to have a family discussion to be aware and best prepared to understand your wishes.
2. “I want to stay in my home.”- For many people, their greatest desire is to stay in their home. A good plan helps them address if their current home is the right home long-term for them. Should they move while they are healthy? Or, if they plan to stay in their home, do they need to retrofit the house at some point?
3. “I want to make decisions for myself.”- A wise financial advisor I worked with for many years would tell her clients, "you should want to make decisions for yourself while you can make them. Otherwise, someone else will be making them for you." This wise advice is probably the biggest reason why having a long-term plan and living will are essential.
Where Do You Start?
Long-term care planning does not have to be a scary or overwhelming process. Frankly, it starts with a simple conversation. We work exclusively with comprehensive financial advisors and Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms. As we have stated in previous articles, we believe the financial advisor is the perfect person to lead this conversation with clients. Make a shortlist of essential questions for a family to think about (or email me, and I can provide you them.) These questions will help your client think through what is important to them. Then figuring out the financial and non-financial elements will be easier and have more meaning. You will see that conversations like these will elevate your value in the client’s mind as you help them address important financial and life issues that many advisors avoid.