How Do I Have the Financial Talk with My Parents?

GOBankingRates recently released a survey that found that 73% of Americans haven’t had conversations with aging parents about their finances. However, 22% of the survey’s respondents said they never plan to have this talk with their parents, because they believe their finances are none of their business.

That’s a really big mistake.

Forbes’ recent article, “What You Don’t Know About Your Parents’ Finances Could Ruin Yours” says that if you don’t take the time to chat to your parents about their finances, your own finances could be affected. This is because there’s a good chance you’ll have to get involved with your parents’ financial lives, as they age. This can impact your own financial well-being, if you aren’t ready for that task.

As Americans are living longer, there’s an increased risk of health issues. About 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is becoming increasingly prevalent as people live longer. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to more than double to 14 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

However, just 5% of adults ages 55 to 60 have long-term care insurance, and only 11% of adults 65 and older have it. Long-term care insurance helps cover the cost of care in an assisted-living facility, nursing home or even at home. Medicare doesn’t pay for this sort of care–which easily runs well over $8,000 a month.

If you and your parents don’t talk about how to pay for any care they might need, you could become your parents’ long-term care plan. That could mean you pay these expenses or stop working to help care for a parent.

Those who haven’t had detailed discussions with their parents about their finances, can anticipate facing a larger burden than those who’ve been able to help their parents start managing their money better, by having discussions with them.

If you have siblings, it is important for all the children to be on the same page regarding the parents’ finances. This will help everyone involved be better prepared.

The most important reason to talk to your parents about their finances sooner rather than later, is to see if they have a will, power of attorney and living will or advance health care directive.

If they don’t, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. The sooner you address these issues, the better.

Reference: Forbes (July 17, 2019) “What You Don’t Know About Your Parents’ Finances Could Ruin Yours”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, Living Will, Financial Planning, Elder Care

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Some Older People Are Healthier with Extra Pounds

The adage “You can never be too rich or too thin” does not necessarily apply after age 80 – at least the thin part. A study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that higher weight can make you healthier after age 80. Here are a few reasons why some older people are healthier with extra pounds:

People Over 80 Tend to Lose Weight Naturally

Even if you struggled to maintain a healthy weight throughout your adult years, you will likely lose some weight without trying after you hit 80. If you were already thin, losing weight could make you frail. Medical frailty means you experience at least three of these situations:

  • You lost 10 pounds in a year without trying to do so
  • You have a low level of physical activity
  • Your walking speed is slow
  • You have weakness
  • You feel exhausted

People over the age of 80 tend to lose weight unintentionally, because of problems with their digestive systems. Some people also do not eat enough because of dental issues.

The Rules Change After 80

People in the medical field (and the multi-billion-dollar weight-loss industry) hammer us constantly about the adverse health issues of being overweight. These people say if you are obese, you are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. After the age of 80, however, extra pounds can protect you from heart failure and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

People who have higher weight are also less likely to break bones when they fall. That padding really does help you avoid fractures that could rob you of your mobility and independence and even your life. Falls are one of the leading causes of death for seniors. A leg, hip, or spinal fracture could put you in a wheelchair. With decreased mobility comes a higher incidence of respiratory infections, like pneumonia. Not being able to get up and walk can cause blood clots to form, that can cause a stroke or an embolism in the heart or lungs.

A Valuable Buffer

An older person who is already thin will not have a buffer, if she loses weight from an illness or injury. The body will not have the strength to heal itself and get well. People who are thin or underweight before age 80 have a higher mortality rate than people who have extra weight.

After age 80, our bodies lose muscle mass and bone density. People seldom restore those levels. Researchers recommend seniors eat at least three meals a day with 30 grams of protein in each meal, for a total of at least 90 grams of protein every day. Older adults should also preserve their mobility by walking and their strength by doing overall resistance training two or three times a week to work your large muscle groups.

Women are at a greater danger of disability from falls than men, likely because women tend to have less muscle mass than men. Women also tend to be more conscious of their weight and body image than men and tend to diet more as a result.

References:

AARP. “When Thinner Isn’t Better.” (accessed June 23, 2019 ) https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/weight-concerns-after-80.html

Suggested Key Terms: how extra pounds can help your health as you get older, extra weight can help keep seniors healthy, being overweight can prevent fractures in older adults

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Choosing an Active Adult Community

For couples considering a move to an age-restricted community, the number of choices is larger than ever before. Interest in age-restricted communities is strong. In fact, according to Next Avenue’s article “How to Choose a 55+ Active Adult Community,” builder interest in these communities hasn’t been this robust since 2008.

How can you determine which is the best for you?

There are small, city-based apartment complexes, single family houses on gated golf courses and mammoth communities with more than 9,000 residents. Many are owned by their occupants, but an increasing number are rentals. At least one of the owners or occupants must usually be at least 55.

You’ll need to know exactly what you can afford. In addition to rent or a mortgage payment, most communities have a homeowner’s association or community fee. They can be around a hundred dollars a month or more.

While some communities have restaurants on site, fees don’t always cover meals or health care. The monthly fees go towards maintenance of facilities and general exterior care, like lawn care, snow removal and community facilities, like a club house or a pool.

Run the numbers to be sure the costs of a new home will work with your retirement budget.

How active is the community? Some communities have club houses, organized activities, and busy social schedules. Some take big trips, like cruises, with residents. Others have few structured activities. Take a look at the schedule—if everything looks like fun, then you’re looking at the right place.

What about your changing needs? You may arrive in the community as a healthy young retiree, but over time your needs will change. Does the home feature “universal design” that will be manageable as you age? This includes no-step entries, single-floor living, wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and a walk-in shower.

Take a look outside of the community as well. Are there things that you want to do in the area, like bicycling, shopping, visiting a museum or seeing a live performance? If travelling is important, how far is the community from major highways or an airport? For many retirees, living near a college community is an added boost for the ability to audit classes and attend shows, lectures and festivals.

Another way to future-proof your retirement home is considering where your children and grandchildren are living. Today’s retirees aren’t necessarily looking for golf courses and tennis courts. They want to be near family, and that often means moving to where their children live. Some couples wait to make relocation decisions, until they know that their children are staying put.

Reference: Next Avenue (June 12, 2019) “How to Choose a 55+ Active Adult Community”

Suggested Key Terms: Active Adult Communities, Active Retirement, Future-Proof, Universal Design, Homeowner’s Association, Relocation

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