Prepare For a Loved One’s Long Term Care by Preparing Yourself First

In Articles, Articles: Kansas City Office, Articles: Salt Lake City Office by Scott Dougan

My, how times have changed. There once was a time when nursing homes were not what they are today. When dad or grandma could no longer live alone and care for him or herself, moving them into a nursing home wasn’t really an option.

Instead, you would have moved them into your home. They would live out their final days as part of the family living together under one roof, caring for one another. While that may sound appealing to some, there are a host of reasons why this isn’t as easy as it sounds. As a result, more and more families are facing the prospect of a long, and potentially very costly, care situation in a nursing institution.

For one, people are generally living longer. Advances in medical care allow for an elderly person to overcome more and more medical obstacles that have the effect of prolonging their life by many years. This means a stay that would have been a year or two, decades ago, now has the potential to be a decade-long stay. That can wear out family care-givers. Additionally, more and more families have more than one income earner in the home, so the prospect of one person dedicating himself or herself to the care of a family member has an even greater financial impact beyond the emotional aspects.

So what can you do to prepare for the uncertainty, the possibility, of caring for a family member in some meaningful way? My best advice is to get your own financial house in order now so you can better weather any storm that may come, which may allow you to be more able to focus on the needs of another. If you’ve ever flown commercially, you’ve heard this advice before: “In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will fall from the ceiling.” And who do they tell you to place the mask on first? You. After all, you can’t help someone else if you’re in crisis yourself.

If you decide that it’s time to get square with your own finances, allow me to offer a few suggestions. Seek help, and from several professionals. The most successful financial planning is done through a team of complementary advisors: a financial advisor, an accountant, and an estate planning attorney. They each provide different services and insights, thus each expert is necessary for a properly-built financial and estate plan. While high quality advice will require an investment on your part, the benefits will outweigh the costs. In fact, simply by asking you the right questions, even a consultation with one of these professionals can allow you to see a path toward greater financial stability that you may not have seen otherwise.

Once you have your advisory team in place, your objective is to align your financial matters with your priorities and objectives. If one of your objectives is to prepare for the possibility of caring for a loved one, there are a host of tools and strategies that can move you ahead in this pursuit. For example, are you clear on how much money is required for you to retire from paid work? If not, you may be well-served by organizing your finances in a way that makes it possible to stop working if or when a care situation arises. Without knowing where you stand, how can you possibly respond comfortably to that call when it comes?

You may be reading this, asking yourself: “How can I even consider retirement at this time?” Well, I’ll ask you this in return: “How will you know when you can retire if you haven’t built a plan for retirement?”

The possibility of helping care for a loved one can be stress-inducing or exciting, depending on your relationship, and your financial well-being. By ensuring that your own financial and retirement plans are clearly defined, you’re at least giving yourself a reasonable chance to respond lovingly, should the need arise.