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.

These findings are not too different from our own research findings. In our 2019 myLifeSite Consumer Survey, we received responses from 430 people who are actively engaged in the process of researching CCRCs for themselves. We found that even when prospective residents of a CCRC feel that making the move is the best choice for them over the long-term, there are a variety of reason that might indefinitely delay the decision to move.

Top 3 reasons for delaying a CCRC move

In our survey, we asked respondents to provide their primary reasons for delaying a move to a CCRC. The top three responses were:

  1. I don’t feel I’m old enough for a retirement community (46.6 percent)
  2. I have concerns about long-term affordability (41.92 percent)
  3. I’m putting off dealing with all my stuff / hassle of moving (34.19 percent)

Many survey participants—approximately 35 percent—also chose to share other reasons for delay in the comments box. Some of the key themes around these write-in responses included: spousal opposition, hard to leave my home/neighborhood, difficulty of moving to a smaller space, waiting for the right residence to come available, and a lack of confidence in the management team.

Interestingly, the survey respondent’s age impacted their reasons for delaying their CCRC move too. For those age 80 and under, not feeling old enough was the top response (47.17 percent), and putting off dealing with all their stuff was third (34.34 percent). For those over 81 and over, dealing with all of their stuff was the top reason (53.62 percent), but even at 81+ years old, 18.84 percent said they didn’t feel old enough for a CCRC.

Reasons to reconsider delaying your CCRC move

Let’s take a look at each of the three most common reasons that people say they are putting off their CCRC move and examine reasons they may want to reconsider their delay.

I don’t feel I’m old enough for a retirement community.

A certain percentage of people will probably never feel like they are “old enough” for a CCRC. I’ve heard people well into their eighties say this. But the reality is that there may be numerous benefits to making a CCRC move sooner rather than later, some of which people often do not fully realize until after the move.

I wrote about this very topic earlier this year, but in short, moving to a CCRC at a younger age allows you to get involved in the community’s many activities and make friendships sooner, can increase your overall wellness, reduces concerns about being healthy enough to qualify for entry, and in general, can make the CCRC transition easier.

I have concerns about long-term affordability.

The cost of a CCRC is an important consideration. With the hefty entrance fee required by most CCRCs on top of the monthly residence fee, many people assume that it will be cheaper to remain in their own home as they grow older. However, this may not always be the case, especially if the entry fee is refundable and if the cost of care is discounted at the CCRC. (Be sure you understand the contract stipulations.)

All of the living expenses that come with remaining in your home (mortgage, insurance, property taxes, maintenance, food, etc.) plus paying for any in-home assisted living services you may eventually require can really add up. Just 20 hours of in-home care per week (part-time care) can range from around $1,600 to $2,400 each month on top of your other expenses.

Comparing the lifetime cost of staying in your home and the cost of moving to a CCRC is nearly impossible because there are so many unknowns related to the costs of staying at home. For example, will home renovations be needed (to update or to accommodate any mobility issues)? What is the ongoing maintenance expense of the home? And what if you need in-home care? How much will you need and for how long? What will be the financial impact on family members if they must help with caregiving? What if you ultimately must move more than once based on various levels of long-term care needs?

Without a crystal ball, these questions are difficult to answer. However, in terms of getting a quick comparison of your monthly expenses today versus if you opt to move to a CCRC, our “Monthly Cost Impact of Moving to a Retirement Community” downloadable worksheet (PDF) can help.

I am putting off dealing with all my stuff / hassle of moving.

This one is a biggie. And to be honest, I totally get it. Moving is rarely if ever a fun chore, and moving to a CCRC is a big life change. Plus, downsizing to a smaller residence is not only a lot of work, it can be highly emotional for many people. But the reality is that at some point, someone is going to have to sort through all of your possessions and decide what to keep and what to get rid of—either you, your partner/spouse/adult children, or the executor of your estate.

The good news is that most CCRCs provide tremendous resources and support so that the whole moving process is much, much easier on the senior. Just last week, I had someone tell me that they really appreciate some advice I had shared in my book about the value of a move-in coordinator or senior relocation specialist. Many CCRCs have move-in coordinators on staff who act as your personal move liaison, offering recommendations on estate sale companies and movers, answering any questions that may arise, and even providing design services to help you determine what furniture will fit in your new home. A senior relocation specialist may work independently of any particular retirement community. These valuable services typically spring into action once a soon-to-be-resident signs their CCRC contract and submits their deposit.

What’s holding you back?

CCRC residents cite countless advantages of living in a CCRC. Among the top reasons cited by our survey respondents: the health and wellness programs and facilities available on the CCRC campus, the social opportunities presented by the community, and the safety benefits that come with CCRC residency.

However, access to a full-continuum of care services was by far the top reason that people gave for wanting to move to a CCRC. Sixty-three percent of respondents rated this as the number one reason among the given survey choices; in fact, it scored 45 percent higher than the next most popular response (health and wellness programs). The peace of mind that comes with knowing that you will have access to the care services you need—from just a little help with activities of daily living (ADLs) to full-time skilled nursing care—is invaluable to many people.

So ultimately, if you are considering a CCRC but one (or more) of the reasons above is holding you back from making the move, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis of your choice—and by cost, I mean not only monetary but also the emotional and physical cost.

Is the thing that is holding you back from making a CCRC move really an issue? Is it an issue that will get easier or more difficult as more time goes by and you grow older? Or is it a surmountable challenge, or even a relatively minor challenge, if you look at it a little more objectively?

 

 

The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.


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 left over 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.
 
 
 
 


Tip #19 of 50 – What About the Dog?

As The Wesley Communities approach 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 # 19 of 50 –  What about my pet?
If you are a senior living on your own, or if you are the adult child of a senior living on their own, and moving to a retirement community is under consideration one very important question may be: but what about the dog? Or, what about the cat? Oftentimes, this beloved pet has been part of the family for many years, and seems like a real obstacle when it comes to making a move.
The good news is this: many retirement communities not only allow pets, they encourage them! Click the link above to learn more about why a pet needn’t be an obstacle when considering a retirement community.
 
 
 


Boomers Can Achieve Better Health with Super Foods

Super foods. The name alone evokes images of capped heroes, swooping in to save the day. But are these foods really worthy of such superlative nomenclature? And are the health benefits to seniors all they are cracked up to be? For some of these foods, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But for others, recent studies have given mixed reviews.
What makes a food “super”?
The trademark of most of the super foods is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, “good” fats, and/or lean protein. On top of that, many are loaded with antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants are frequently associated with the prevention of cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease–all issues of concern as we age.
Super foods with health benefits for seniors
Berries 
Many varieties of berries are high in vitamins, fiber, and flavonoid–a powerful antioxidant that boasts anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting immune system benefits. In addition to berries’ antioxidant properties, a 2013 research study out of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston showed that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries each week reduced their risk of heart attack by up to one-third. Another berry, avocado (yep, it’s a berry!) is also high in blood pressure-controlling potassium, lutein for eye health, and monounsaturated fat, which is the “good” kind that helps lower bad cholesterol.
Dark chocolate 
When it comes to this bittersweet indulgence, moderation is the key. While dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, it is also high in fat and calories. A few morsels here and there can have cancer-fighting benefits, but too much will result in weight gain, which has numerous negative effects on seniors’ health. Stick to the higher percentages of cacao as these varieties usually have a higher concentration of flavonoids but have less added sugar.
Kale 
Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables are renowned for their low calorie/high fiber content, while also providing vitamins A, C, E, and potassium. But it is kale’s abundance of carotenoid, an antioxidant that protects cells and may help halt the early stages of cancer, that escalates it to the super food category. In fact, studies have shown that eating two to three servings of green leafy vegetables like kale per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer, making it one of the top cancer-fighting foods. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Nuts and legumes
Nuts and legumes (like peanuts) are great sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (“good” fats), but many people shy away from nuts because of their high fat content. However, clinical research suggests that moderate nut consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and may in fact aid in weight loss. Other epidemiologic studies have correlated nuts with reductions in coronary heart disease, gallstones, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. With their bevy of cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommends getting four servings a week of unsalted nuts like almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
Olive oil
Despite the high fat content, moderate amounts of olive oil are a key ingredient in the world-famous Mediterranean diet. People in the Mediterranean region who regularly consume olive oil have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and inflammation, compared to residents of North America and Northern Europe, and the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in olive oil may be the reason why. MUFAs have been shown to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. And for those with type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that MUFAs can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
Red wine 
This one is probably the most hotly debated among the super foods list. Like with chocolate, moderation is key to any health benefits of el vino since high alcohol consumption can cause increased triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and liver damage…not to mention wine’s high calorie count. Yet numerous studies have shown that moderate amounts of red wine can lower the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. It’s thought that the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine may be responsible for preventing damage to blood vessels, reducing bad cholesterol, and preventing blood clots. But it’s not all rosy news: some studies have suggested red wine increases the risk of certain cancers and dementia, while other studies found a decrease. So the jury is still out on whether a glass of red wine should be a part of the doctor’s orders for a healthy diet.
Salmon
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week of fatty fish, like salmon. That’s because salmon is low in saturated fat but high in omega-3 fatty acids, a “good” fat which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides, and slow plaque growth in the arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids also may help lower seniors’ risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.
The bottom line on super foods
For seniors, good nutrition is key to staying healthy and active as you age. In fact, a sensible diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and super foods can help prevent or slow the progression of many of the diseases and conditions that are so common among seniors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis, and certain cancers.
 
The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.