The Wise Woman – Planning for Long-Term Care

Blog November

As a woman, it feels like we’re constantly being pitched the plethora of beauty products on the market designed to assist with our “aging”. Just last week, my doctor recommended a new cream that is designed to help prevent, of all things, elbow wrinkles. This took me by complete surprise as apparently I’ve been ignorant to the fact that elbow wrinkles even exist! While it is hard for me to imagine the elbow cream playing a critical role in whether or not I age gracefully, my doctor certainly got me thinking about the future.

While both men and women should have a plan in place for aging, the statistics particularly demand a female’s attention. According to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, more than 70% of nursing home residents are women. Add to that the 4.7 million women who used an in-home nurse aid just last year. Given these facts, there are a few critical concepts we should consider when thinking about our potential future care.

1.Do you have someone in your plan who can dedicate the time and strength to care for you if you were to need them? The typical “default” choices might not be appropriate.

  • Spouses/long-term partners/family members/close friends: you may very well outlive them. The life expectancy of a woman born in 1950 is about 5 years longer than a man born in the same year. What’s more, while you might serve in a caretaker role for your spouse or partner, who will do it for you? The person a woman has in mind to provide care now might not be willing or able when care is actually needed.
  • Children: women that have children that live locally may anticipate that their kids will be able to provide or oversee care. But it’s getting more and more common for people to relocate. Take a quick look at the Woodward Financial Advisors staff for evidence of the relocation trend. Only one of the seven of us grew up in North Carolina!

2.How will your assets be impacted by the cost of an in-home aide or nursing facility? If you are married or partnered, are there sufficient assets for both of you? We’ll often run projections for clients that incorporate a long-term care need. Sometimes, folks have enough funds and/or income streams to self-insure for events like this. Other times, we may talk about obtaining long-term care insurance as a way to hedge a potentially debilitating cost.

3.Have you put your wishes in writing and communicated with those who will eventually be in a position of responsibility? Decisions should be made well in advance, while you are of sound mind and body. It’s important to document your desires using legal documents like Health Care Power of Attorney forms and Advance Directives, but also through more informal ways like talking to the people who you want to make decisions on your behalf. Let them know what you do and don’t want, and tell them know where important legal documents are located should they need them.

In my family, there are three single females who are included in the statistics above, and I have personally seen the effects of those who do and don’t give appropriate thought to the issues involved.

As promised in my last article, I would like to share a short story about my uncle “Brad,” who suffered a stroke at age 65 and lost all cognitive abilities. My aunt “Beth” was left to care for him day in and day out for eight years until Brad’s death. That incredible effort took quite a toll on Beth. She now struggles on a daily basis to complete basic physical tasks, make decisions and take care of herself. I remember Beth as the vibrant, funny and strong woman she once was. It’s hard to swallow the gravity of who she has become as a result of having to care for a loved one for so long.

Maybe you have experienced a situation like Beth’s first hand in your own family. Or perhaps you haven’t made an active decision about who will care for you as you age and how you will fund that care, and this topic hits close to home.   Woodward Financial Advisors has helped many of our clients make these decisions, and we would be glad to assist you as well.

About Sandra Truitt

Follow me on Twitter: @WFA_Sandra
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