Your Health and Wealth

On financial planning for our mature years:
Long Term Care and How to Get Started

A Time To Act

By Larry Thaul, CLU, ChFC, CLTC

So much has been written about preserving our lifetime accumulation of assets. Look at the many legal instruments and financial and insurance vehicles scrutinized by the public. What is needed is human connection. Getting good individual advice begins with relationships to others. Articles by experts tell us to build our own personal advisory panel by trust and affiliation. Now comes the time to act and create a plan for our harvest years.

To act means taking a step. Your first step may be talking with your spouse, children, advisor or friend about what you feel are the challenges of aging well here in Westchester. Once the silence is broken what emerges is that your concerns are shared by others. This is an emotionally charged subject which most people have had a direct experience with either personally or close at hand. The relative who lived independently till age 85 and now resides in a facility. The spirited neighbor who will live to 100 at home with a personal aide covered by a policy. It is truly amazing how similar our concerns really are and the stories we share � if we take that step and reach out of ourselves to someone else of our choosing.

For instance, while in a conversation with a cousin about what happened to an elder relative, you may learn about a newly available home care service or a new nearby adult day facility within your budget or covered by county services or a Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) policy. The morsel of information you gain may be about an approachable, competent elder law specialist, an important term to demand in an LTCI policy, the name of a licensed care coordinator who can lend expertise or compassion to your quest for clarification to writing a plan of care with your physician. �How am I going to stay independent as long as I can in this expensive county?� becomes answerable one step, one conversation at a time.

The next step may be to visit a nearby facility for information only. Make the local home health agency or assisted living facility a friendly place. Remove the threat that lives in your head. You could bring a friend to experience it with you and discuss matters over coffee. Information will flow from the admissions or marketing officer (a planned meeting may be beneficial). Each of us needs to delve into this forbidden area filled with our own denial and aversion. Only we can overcome our own individual set of fears. But we can have the help of others who care about us. After all, don�t we trust our friends, relatives and advisors as much as we�ll have to trust our aides one day?

Just remember that this is a long term process and proper closure will take time. Grant it 3-9 months before all parties involved are comfortable, and any and all documents and financial vehicles are fully set up. Understanding that periodic review is necessary
and also takes time. It will happen but it is a process.

Ultimately, it is preferable for most of us to put our own, self-designed, affordable plan together for our own care one day. We can learn to control procrastination and take delight in controlling our destiny. The choice becomes whether we take charge or allow chance to take over.

So liberating is the feeling of having addressed a difficult area like Long Term Care planning head-on that the relief is indescribable. Imagine that you found an expert attorney to consider, plan and draft the necessary plans and documents for you. You yourself located a competent and certified LTC broker with interest in your situation who took time to do the right thing through to completion. Other affiliated, trusted experts helped get you past all the hurdles you learned were present.

Now permit yourself the opportunity to relax and truly know that you yourself have done everything possible to �take care of business� while the sun was shining. Isn�t the feeling worth it?