There’s an adage often found on decorative signs and other accessories that reads, “Be nice to your kids; they will choose your nursing home.”
The saying rather drives home the best and the worst aspects about planning for old age. Many retirees will tell you that their most fervent wish is to have a good relationship with family members, but that’s not always easy to do. However, research shows that elders who are more socially involved with family members are more likely to live longer and have a stronger immune system, positive mental health and a higher level of cognitive function than those who do not.1
It’s also worth noting that most people today would prefer to “age in place” in their own homes. To do so, you may need either very patient and attentive children or a sizable nest egg to pay professionals who will take care of you as well as family (or better). We can’t do much about the disposition of family members, but we can help you plan for the possibility of increased health care expenses or the need for caregiving in retirement. Please give us a call to schedule a meeting.
For those who live in three-bedroom houses, for example, and want to age in place, there may be a couple of different ideas. The first is that the home may be too large for an elderly person — particularly one who needs daily assistance — to maintain in the long term. However, there is also room for family, friends or even caregivers to live with you, allowing for the constant care you need in your own home.
High net worth retirees may have ample financial resources to pay for long-term care if needed, whereas low-asset retirees may be eligible for Medicaid long-term services and supports or subsidized housing. It’s middle-class retirees who are most likely to feel the pinch when it comes to the expense of paying for in-home care. That’s no small demographic — in fewer than 10 years, there will be more than 14 million middle-income seniors in the U.S. Two-thirds of these will suffer from three or more chronic health conditions, more than half will find it difficult to walk independently, and one in five will require significant care for their most basic daily living needs.2
Many who land in the middle-income category may feel they can rely on family members for their care. However, long-term caregiving takes its toll. What might start out as a daughter dropping by regularly and taking her mom to doctor’s appointments can soon morph into responding to daily needs, dropping everything for minor emergencies and spending all of her free time addressing parent needs instead of those of her own, her employer or even her own family. If this responsibility is not shared among siblings, community resources and hired help, the role of caregiver can take a mental and physical toll and turn into resentment toward the elderly person as well as the available people who do not assist.3
Knowing when to begin planning for long-term care is important. It’s typically recommended to begin planning in your 50s and communicate your wishes for long-term care with your family members.4
Even today’s young adults need to look ahead at their caregiving options in old age. More people are choosing not to marry, and more than one in four (28.4%) households today are composed of just one person — more than twice the number (13.1%) in 1960.5
In other words, without a partner and/or children, a well-thought-out caregiving strategy may be your best option to allow you to age in place.