The Effects of Not Having a Will

When a person dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, and they have property titled in their name alone, whether it is a boat, house, bank account or a motorcycle, there is a good likelihood that they have made life more difficult and more expensive for their surviving spouse or children. Click the link above to learn more about the effects of not having a Will and why it is important to prepare one ahead of time.


New Year, New You – 2020 Resolutions for Seniors

The New Year has officially kicked off and for many, this is a time to set new goals and to plan for the year ahead. Health is typically one of the main areas people focus on once January rolls around, and while it may be a more obvious goal in the younger generations, it is just as important for our seniors as well.
If you are planning to focus on your health in 2020, set goals that will benefit both your physical and mental health. Typically, there are small changes and adjustments that can be made to your regular routine that will have a lasting, positive impact overall. Click the link above for some New Year’s Resolutions that will help you start 2020 in the right direction.


A Neglected Part of Retirement Planning

The term “retirement planning” is frequently used in the financial industry and in the media. But what does it really mean? For some, retirement planning includes strategies for saving and investing to prepare for a future retirement. For others, it may focus more on various methods for tax efficiency and generating income during the retirement years. Of course, to others it may have less to do about money and more about the psychology of transitioning into retirement. Clearly, “retirement planning” is a broad topic.
We would like to encourage you to think about retirement planning from one other perspective. It’s no secret that people are living longer today than before. A seventy-year old in the U.S. today can expect to live another seventeen more years on average, with many living well into their nineties and beyond. With increasing life expectancy comes a greater need for a proactive approach to planning for the later phases of retirement. Yet, this is an area of planning that is often neglected by financial advisors and the general public alike. After all, long-term care insurance, which is owned by only a small fraction of retirees, is only part of a plan. It is not, in and of itself, a plan.
As a society we are still quite reactive in our approach to addressing the lifestyle and healthcare needs that we may face in our later years. We often wait until a significant health event occurs before we begin “figuring it all out” and, almost always, this responsibility then falls on the adult children or other family members who may not have the resources, flexibility in schedule, or emotional capacity to take on such a task.
At The Wesley Communities, we are passionate about seeing our society become better-educated on the various retirement living and long-term care alternatives, and having the necessary discussions with family members and valued advisors about what you might want for your future. We encourage a proactive approach by planning ahead- to the extent possible- for the later phases of retirement. You can begin by taking time to learn the differences between aging at home versus moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or some other type of retirement living choice.

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Tip #21 of 50 – Holiday Memories and Traditions

As The Wesley Communities celebrate 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!
Tip #21 of 50 – Holiday Memories and Traditions
I have some very powerful memories of the holidays as a child, and I bet you do, too. Click the link above to learn more about Peg’s holiday traditions and why, at The Wesley Communities, you don’t have to give up yours.


How CCRCs Can Ease Retirement-Related Fears

One subject that is frequently voiced among prospective residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or “life plan communities”) revolves around the stress associated with envisioning and planning for the future, and indeed, it can feel like a daunting task since none of us have the luxury of a crystal ball. The results of a recent survey speak directly to some of these concerns.
Retirement worries
The study was conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), a division of the nonprofit Transamerica Institute, which strives to educate people on retirement security trends in the U.S. This annual survey asked over 5,000 Americans in the workforce about their top retirement/aging-related concerns. Here were the top five responses:

  1. Outliving savings/investments (51 percent)
  2. Social Security will be reduced or cease to exist in the future (47 percent)
  3. Declining health that requires long-term care (45 percent).
  4. Cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (35 percent)
  5. Lack of adequate and affordable healthcare (32 percent)

You can view the complete TCRS study here.
These results run in parallel to a separate survey conducted by Merrill Lynch in 2013 in partnership with Age Wave, and it highlights respondents’ biggest concerns about living a long lifetime. The results were as follows:

  1. Serious health problems (72 percent)
  2. Not being a burden on family (60 percent)
  3. Running out of money to live comfortably (47 percent)
  4. Being lonely (26 percent)
  5. Not having a purpose (21 percent)

You can view the full Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey here.
Isn’t it more than a tad ironic that while most people hope to live a long life, simultaneously, they are worried about what will happen if that wish comes to fruition?
Useful perspective for financial planners
We hear a lot of talk about the importance of having enough money for retirement–401(k)s, IRAs, etc.–and of course saving should be a crucial part of anyone’s long-term retirement plan. But for me, the most striking aspect of the two studies described above is that several of the concerns voiced by the surveys’ respondents are not related to money or retirement savings, at least not directly.
From the standpoint of financial advisors, that’s a really significant finding. Understanding clients’ pain points around retirement planning can help financial professionals offer better guidance on the issues that matter most to soon-to-be retirees. After all, one of the motivations for planning for the future is to alleviate some of the anxiety about the unknown–and these studies show that people aren’t just worried about their bank account balance. So, financial planners would benefit from understanding the various options, such as continuing care retirement communities and other senior living options that are available for their clients to plan for potential age-related health issues like cognitive and physical decline that could necessitate long-term care.
Alleviating worries for retirees-to-be
But these study results also are noteworthy for people who are themselves approaching retirement age. Perhaps you’re diligently saving to prepare for the future, but it’s those health and wellness “unknowns” that are keeping you up at night. That’s where a CCRC may become a viable option worth considering.
Planning for an eventual move to a CCRC can allay many of the worries that people express again and again about their retirement years (as evidenced by the aforementioned surveys). CCRCs offer their residents access to a continuum of progressive care services ranging from independent living to full-time skilled nursing care…and everything in between…all within the same community campus. Many CCRCs also provide memory care services for people experiencing a cognitive decline related to conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This range of care affords tremendous peace of mind for CCRC residents, knowing that they will have ready-access to the level of care they need, if and when they need it, and knowing they will not become a burden to their adult children.
Feeling more confident about future unknowns
It’s understandable and normal to have some worries associated with the aging process and the prospect of retirement­–after all, you’ve never done this before! But many points of anxiety can be alleviated through proper financial planning and understanding the advantages of senior living options like CCRCs, which include the necessary facilities and skilled caregivers to attend to your potential physical or mental health needs down the road.
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Caregiving Tips for the Holidays

Help a Caregiver You Know

  • Offer to help clean and cook, wrap presents, go shopping, or pick up the kids.
  • If your family is caregiving, suggest a potluck holiday meal or secret Santa gift exchange to save time and money.
  • The best gift you could give a caregiver is help. Give them the day off!
  • Remember to say “thank you” to a caregiver and let them know they are appreciated.
  • If a member of your family is caregiving for a relative this holiday season, send a thank you gift.

Click the link above for additional tips for those caring for a loved one during the holidays.


3 Reasons Seniors Delay a CCRC Move & Why They Should Reconsider

According to AARP’s most recent survey of adults age 50 and over, 76 percent of seniors want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. I’ve seen other surveys that put that figure at upwards of 90 percent. Whichever source you consider, the consensus seems to be that a large majority of retirees would prefer to stay in their current home rather than move to a retirement community such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or life plan community).
But why?
AARP research identified the most common reasons that people give for not wanting to move to a CCRC or other senior living community. They included: the physical stress in moving, fear of losing independence, anxiety over leaving a community, emotional attachment to a family home, and fear of the unknown. Click the link above to learn more about why seniors delay moving to a CCRC and why they should reconsider.


Tip #20 of 50 – Loneliness in Seniors, an Enormous Problem

As The Wesley Communities celebrate 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!
Tip #20 of 50 – A problem no one wants to talk about: Loneliness can be an enormous problem for seniors still living in their homes
In the hierarchy of human needs, food, shelter, and safety are at the top of the list. And oftentimes, seniors living alone can meet these basic needs fairly well, especially with services provided in the home, and necessities more readily available through things like Uber and personal shoppers. But once you step beyond these basic human requirements to sustain life, social interaction and connection are of the utmost importance, and oftentimes, can be missing elements for seniors living alone. Click the link above to learn more.
 
 
 


November is National Family Caregiver Month

Recognized by President Clinton when he signed the first proclamation in 1997, National Family Caregiver’s Month has been proclaimed by an American President annually ever since. Many states and dozens of local municipalities have also proclaimed November, NFC Month.
Day in and day out, more than 75 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role in caring for elderly, aging parents. Click the link above to learn more about the role that caregivers play and why this month especially, we should join together to celebrate and recognize them.
 
 
 
 
 


The Unexpected Costs of Caring for an Aging Parent

According to data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are over 66 million family caregivers in the United States. That translates to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. adult population…a stunning statistic. This number includes people who are caring for the sick or disabled, but the majority of these caregivers are assisting an elderly family member.
Other than a spouse, the most common people to be tasked with caring for an elderly loved one are adult children. In fact, a study conducted by MetLife showed that 10 million adult children over age 50 were acting as a caregiver for their aging parent(s), a number that equals approximately a quarter of all Baby Boomers.
These caregivers are helping their loved ones with everything from running errands and meal preparation to dressing, bathing, and using the toilet. In certain cases, families are able to outsource some or all of these tasks to a paid caregiver; other families are unable to afford this option or believe it is their duty to care for their aging parents.
A large majority of seniors hope to stay in their own home for as long as possible–a concept referred to as “aging in place.” There’s a common perception that this is the most cost-effective option for seniors, and some people choose this route because they hope to save money to eventually leave to their adult children. But the reality is that, depending on the level of care that a person needs as they age and if they develop health issues, staying in the home can become very costly to their grown children, in more ways than one.
The hard costs of caregiving
If you choose to take on an elderly parent’s care (or have no other option), there are potentially many costs associated with becoming an unpaid caregiver. There is the emotional cost–caring for a sick or elderly person can be extremely stressful and mentally draining. There’s also a physical cost–the strain on the body can leave you with sore muscles in additional to general exhaustion. But one of the sometimes-unforeseen costs of becoming a caregiver is the financial impact on the adult child.
When taking on the caregiver role, adult children often have to reduce their hours at work or even quit their job altogether, thus slashing their personal income. Add to that the loss of pension earnings and Social Security benefits, and according to the MetLife study, adult-child caregivers in the U.S. suffer a cumulative loss of nearly $3 trillion in earnings. For sons, the average in lost income is $283,716 per person. The news is even worse for daughters, who lose an average of $324,044 in earnings as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
In addition to the hit to their income, caregivers may find themselves simultaneously taking on extra expenses. On average, family members serving as caregivers are spending nearly $7,000 of their own money each year on their loved one’s expenses–helping cover the cost of things like medical bills, utilities, and food.
Jeopardizing your own retirement
But perhaps the biggest unforeseen cost that many adult children pay when they become an aging parent’s caregiver is the hit to their retirement savings. That loss can come in two forms.
First, working less, making less money, and increasing expenses frequently means that the caregiver has little leftover at the end of the month and is thus contributing less (or nothing) to their retirement savings account. And this savings deficit often comes at an inopportune time. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the average age of an adult child serving as caregiver is 49.2. Many people anticipate bolstering their savings during their 50s since they have perhaps paid off a large part of their house and gotten the kids through college. This scenario makes taking on caregiver responsibilities in your late 40s or early 50s rather badly timed.
The second way that caregiving can be detrimental to adult children’s future retirement is that it is not uncommon for people to dip into their savings in order to pay those previously mentioned additional expenses–using their own nest egg dollars to compensate for their lost income and help pay for mom and dad’s costs. This is an ill-advised decision, but some people have no other choice in order to make ends meet during this period of reduced or eliminated income and increased care expenses.
Funding aging parents’ care
If you choose to become a caregiver to your aging parent (or have no other option), here are a few ways to manage their care and expenses while looking out for your own long-term financial security (and mental and physical health).

  • Find out if there is a long-term care insurance policy, which may provide financial assistance for certain care services.
  • Check to see if there are any government programs that your parent is eligible for, such as Medicaid, veteran’s, or disability benefits.
  • Look at your parents’ expenses (as well as your own) and determine if there are simple cost-cutting opportunities such as a less expensive cable package or fewer meals out. Do anything you can to avoid dipping into your own retirement savings.
  • Enlist the help of siblings or other family members, both financially and time-wise. No one person can care for another full-time with no breaks.
  • Consider if it might be more cost-effective to hire a home care worker to assist your parent so that you can continue to work or can at least take less time off.

Preparing for your aging parents’ future
Having a crystal ball would come in handy in so many life situations but perhaps none more so than knowing what will happen as a person ages. It’s this unknown that can create so much stress as our parents grow older and we must make decisions about their care. This is why I strongly encourage adult children to have a frank discussion with their parents about their long-term living situation and their potential care needs down the road.
It’s also why some seniors consider the possibility of moving to a retirement community such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also known as a life plan community), which offers residents a full continuum of care services, if and when needed. Yes, on the surface, CCRCs can seem expensive and some much more pricey than others, but the peace of mind they offer to both the aging parent as well as the adult child may just turn out to be priceless.
 

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The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.