Medicine is advancing, and people are living longer than ever before. Congratulations—you now get to spend more time in retirement, pursuing your passions and hobbies, and increasing connections with your family and friends. A thrilling stage of life!
However, while longer life allows you more time and freedom in your later years, changes and conditions that affect personality, mental capacity, and decision-making can still appear. Yet we never want to think about our own deterioration and demise. I’m healthy, I have a great memory—how could it possibly happen to me? Yes, it even happens in the healthiest of individuals.
Since family members may see you on a regular basis, these small changes can often go undetected. When they are eventually brought to light, children and relatives often feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities associated with ensuring the financial, medical, and legal safety of their loved ones. These feelings are perfectly normal, and it is important to remember that teamwork is paramount in developing a plan for your future care. Approximately 70% of us are going to have a chronic illness at some point in our lives. So how do we go about setting up this proverbial A-Team? Or maybe I should call it an E-Team!
What Is an Eldercare Team?
What goes into creating an eldercare team, and what exactly does it do to ensure your security as you age? An eldercare team is comprised of family members and professional experts that provide the resources and support to handle the emotional, medical, financial, and legal aspects of aging. While this group of people may not resemble the kind of team that meets every week to practice a sport, they do work together toward a common goal—making sure that you’re safe and protected.
On this team, children and other family members may act as proxies for their parents when interacting with eldercare professionals, assisting in filling out information-heavy forms, and most importantly, providing emotional guidance during this challenging life transition.
Constructing an eldercare team starts within the family. Conversations on topics such as the division of assets, the cost of end-of-life care, and the process of transferring passwords and accounts from parent to child can be difficult, but facing these uncomfortable topics head-on is essential to developing a secure and proactive plan.
Once some of these hard questions are addressed, you and your family can decide which professionals are best suited to help implement your goals. For example, your family may hire an elder law attorney to discuss the importance of wills and estate planning, create a durable power of attorney, and provide information on government programs for seniors. A geriatrics specialist or medical care manager could provide you and your family with assistance in finding community resources that address the healthcare aspects of aging and disability. They can create a medical care plan as well as provide counsel on in-home care and assisted living facilities. While many people don’t consider this, a psychologist or social worker can be an extremely beneficial addition to your team by providing therapy and perspective for you and your family during this time when it feels like power over your life is shifting.
The Role of a Trusted Advisor
If you meet regularly with your financial advisor, they may be among the first to notice a decline in your mental or physical health. Because of this, a trusted and objective financial advisor is essential during this stage of life. Among the members of your eldercare team, a financial advisor plays an important role in facilitating conversations and developing plans that help you and your family navigate the financial challenges that arise when building an eldercare team. These members of your team help to ensure your financial preparedness for health and estate issues and can appoint an advocate to deal with legacy-related aspects such as ensuring that your children, charities, and church receive what you intend to leave behind for them.
So, who will you put on your eldercare team? Choose the ones who care.
Nina Azwoir, First Vice President of Investments, Wintrust Wealth Management. © Morningstar 2020. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission. This information may answer some questions but is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the topic. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information, competent tax and legal advice should always be obtained.
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