Aging Is a Team Sport
Successful investors and planners typically rely on a team to support their goals and provide them with advice on various topics. Like a quarterback in football, a wealth advisor may call the plays but still counts on other professionals, such as estate attorneys, accountants and insurance brokers, to help execute the game plan. Imagine if a quarterback alone was expected to throw passes, block the charging linemen, run down field and kick field goals … and then also be tasked with playing defense! Obviously, this makes no sense, but it’s similar to the approach that an adult child may take when tending to the financial, emotional and physical needs of an aging parent. They might try to do it all, but help is available from experts in their respective fields.
In the continuation of my series on financial support for aging parents, I wanted to highlight additional professionals who can provide support to families preparing for caregiving, occupational therapy and a potential change in housing for an aging parent.
Get help from an Aging Life Care Professional®
From my experience, I’ve come across many situations where someone is looking at in-home care options for their aging parent (usually in their 80s or 90s) because they’re adamant about staying in their home without caregivers coming and going. Most often than not, I’ve realized the challenge for the adult child is not understanding their parents needs and communicating solutions in an effective way. An Aging Life Care Professional (formerly referred to as a “Geriatric Care Manager”) tends to have not only the communication skills to get families with differing opinions onto the same page, but they can also put together a strong care management plan that is best suited for the senior retiree. This may mean coordinating home health aides, medication management and rehabilitative appointments, or vetting facilities such as assisted living or skilled nursing communities, so that care can be provided in the best environment possible. Aging Life Care Professionals typically have education and experience in nursing and/or social work fields. At a time when care is needed, you can find the appropriate, credentialed professional via the Aging Lifecare Association website, www.aginglifecare.org.
When retirement goes into overtime, bring in an OT
As a college basketball fan, I find it exciting to watch games where the score is tied after the usual two halves of play, and overtime is needed. Even with the best-laid plans, retirement can also go into overtime (or OT, as it’s often called). This might mean that our health and mobility may limit our ability to do everyday tasks as we age. When we need assistance with daily activities, that’s when we might have to call in an “OT” of our own—that is, an Occupational Therapist.
I’ve had the personal pleasure of getting to learn about this role as my daughter is currently studying to become an Occupational Therapist. An OT can work with all kinds of people, from special-needs children to victims of traumatic injuries to seniors in retirement. They serve as “problem solvers” when it comes to things like getting dressed, opening a jar, remembering medication schedules or navigating stairs safely. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, OTs may provide recommendations and training for caregivers, determine whether patients can safely live independently or require further rehabilitation or nursing care, address existing disabilities with assistive devices so patients can safely perform activities of daily living and perform home safety assessments before discharge to suggest modifications. For more information on occupational therapy, check out www.aota.org.
Setting up the home for aging and care
At the MIT AgeLab, we often discuss the value of building a “longevity team” to accommodate the needs of a large, aging Baby Boomer population. For the most part, this may focus on professionals like caregivers and therapists with healthcare backgrounds. There’s another important team member to consider if the goal is to remain in the home, and that’s the contractor who can implement home renovations to make “aging in place” as safe as possible.
A recent AARP survey indicated that 77% of adults aged 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term. From a financial standpoint, there may be costs necessary to prepare the home to accommodate an aging retiree. Luckily, the National Association of Homebuilders has a designation referred to as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). A CAPS is a contractor who can assess the needs within the home for safety devices such as grab rails in showers, chair lifts up stairs or ramps to allow for exterior home access. They can also make sure that doorways are wide enough to allow for wheelchairs and/or walkers and adjust lighting if necessary to prevent falls in certain areas of the home. If the desire remains to stay in the home long term, a budget and a plan would be necessary to make sure the home is safe and financially manageable.
Delegating the burden
The New York Times recently reported the following: “In its most recent survey of unpaid caregivers, published in 2020, AARP found that there were nearly 42 million people caring for an aging friend or family member — more than tenfold the number in 1989.” Younger generations would be best served to assist their aging family members by enlisting the help of professionals with expertise in care management, occupational therapy and, if required, safe home modification. Planning ahead before needing to respond to an emergency can benefit seniors financially and qualitatively. Apple Inc.’s co-founder Steve Jobs once stated: “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” The same principle can hold true for providing good care to an elderly parent.
Other topics in this series:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Ciprich, CFP®, MBA
Jim is a Partner, Wealth Advisor and Investments Leader in our Morristown, NJ, office. Serving a broad range of clients, he has a particular focus on retirees considering care and housing options. Jim founded legacy firm RegentAtlantic’s Senior Solutions practice specialty. He is often asked to speak at retirement communities and client events and is frequently quoted in the media. Jim also serves on an advisory council to the MIT AgeLab. He holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and has an MBA and a BA in Economics from Rutgers University. He served as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the CFP® program. Jim is a past president of his local estate planning council, and he has also served as a trustee for Morristown United Methodist Church. In recent summers, he has volunteered with Appalachia Service Project. In a prior career, Jim worked in the music industry, where he was awarded multiple RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums.
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