When we help our aging parents plan ahead, we are no longer interested in accumulating wealth or planning for retirement in a senior retirement community. Rather, we are interested in preserving what assets that are left. We are concerned about the need for long-term care and how family members will deal with those needs including living arrangements that provides care support and supervision.
We are also concerned about proper legal documents as we make preparations for the end-of-life such as paying off debts and funerals. And finally, we are concerned about health issues, medical treatment and government programs (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.) to support health care and long-term care.
As we continue to live longer becoming a senior at age 65 is no longer considered to the climax of your working life. Many people are continuing to work beyond age 65 because they are healthy and productive and do not wish to spend the rest of their lives watching television at home or playing golf or traveling. However, the aging process catches up with all of us. For a few of us, it occurs well before the age of 65, but many of us can remain healthy and productive well into our 80s and even 90s. As we continue to live longer, many seniors struggle to keep their heads above water both physically and financially. Health care costs are rising, savings are being depleted and income is not keeping pace with inflation.
For whatever reason, aging seniors and their families ignore the need for seeking expert advice planning for final years. It is usually a crisis such as a fall, the inability to pay for services or medical care, hospitalization or another event that results in action being taken. Unfortunately, by this time it is often too late . . . assets are already depleted and/or the family is not ready to accept responsibility for oversight and care.
Due to Advanced Age, Saving & Investments Run Out
Many people start their senior years with a significant amount of savings and investments and others not so much. Those who have little are particularly vulnerable to unexpected costs that may arise. For various reasons, seniors may not have adequate financial resources to support them through the rest of their life and Social Security or pensions are not sufficient to make up the difference. Many seniors find themselves in a bind in later years where they can’t seek employment to make up the inadequate income.
Losing Your Independence
Seniors can lose their independence simply because of advanced age and a general weakness and frailty which requires intervention and support from the family. However, the most common cause of losing independence is dementia. The risk of dementia or a loss of cognitive capacity increases considerably as one grows older. For seniors who are age 80 and above, the risk of dementia is almost 50%. This means that almost half of all aged seniors will experience some form of cognitive impairment. Families often wait too long before intervening to assist their loved one to maintain independence.
Aging Seniors Are Vulnerable
As we grow older, there is a tendency to be more trusting and thus more vulnerable to financial exploitation. Financial exploitation can take several forms. For example, many seniors will hire handymen or mechanics or other service providers to help them with maintenance, repair or remodeling needs. Unscrupulous maintenance or repair providers sometimes take advantage of seniors by providing services that are unnecessary and these people often charge more for those services. Not to mention the various phone and internet scams that take advantage of seniors and rob them of their savings. Finally, some financial services practitioners will sell financial products to seniors that are not suitable for them that may result in losses or the inability to access their funds.
It is important for family and friends become aware of this tendency for financial exploitation and to develop a plan to protect loved ones from it.