There are several long-term care planning resources featured at http://www.aarp.org/decide. They include a quiz to determine how ready one is for the future, and easy, free, and practical tips that women can use to stay on track. There are also video clips of boomer women Patricia, Jeannie and Mary Ann, who share their personal stories of why and how they’re planning for their futures.
In this extremely challenging economy, without a certain future ahead, it is critical that women really take a deep look at how they are assessing their future needs — from all angles: home, community, legal, health and, of course, finances. The campaign encourages women to look at these needs. According to a recent AARP survey,
59% of women ages 45 to 64 haven’t determined how they’ll pay for their long-term care needs.
More information on why long-term care is a women’s issue can be found here.
I asked Elinor a few questions specifically for this readership. Below are the questions and Ginzler’s responses:
Gen Plus: Families are no longer living near each other in many cases. What type of planning needs to take place before a parent is either in financial or medical distress? What kind of low- or no-cost support is available?
Note: Elinor Ginzler grew up in a New Jersey suburb, spending most weekends at her grandparents. Both sets of grandparents were in NY…about an hour away from her parents home. As she grew up in the mobile Boomer generation, she moved 223 miles away (she can be that exact because she drove the route home to her family often enough).
Ginzler: Planning to take care of them includes planning to take care of yourself as well. [There has to be] open communication, it really starts with open conversations across the generations of how the people want to have their needs met as they get older. And, absolutely knowing the medical conditions, understanding the medical systems that we’re working in, that your parents are dealing with, are going to make a big difference. If you are getting engaged in these kinds of conversations at a time of a crisis scenario, potentially Mom has fallen and broken her hip and is being transported 500 miles away to the nearest hospital, that’s the worst possible time to be having this conversation. If you have had those conversations ahead of time and know how Mom wants to receive her care, who her physicians are, where her Medicare card is, you’re going to be so much better situated in being able to step in a provide some assistance. If you’re a boomer woman, you want to turn around right after that experience, and have that conversation with your children as well, so they know what your wishes are and they know how you want to be cared for.
There is an amazing network of aging resources out there at the community level, many people don’t know about it, this is a federally funded and federally mandated program from the Department of Health and Human Services from the Administration on Aging, and it is called the Aging Network. Every community across the United States has an Aging Office. It might be called the Office on Aging, it might be called the Office of Elderly Affairs. You can find out where that office is through a website that’s run by a government funded program and operated by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. It’s www.eldercare.gov and if you go to that website, you can be linked by zip code to the aging office nearest that zip code, and it would be your family member’s zip code, if that’s who you’re concerned about. They’re going to be able to tell you all of the community resources that are available, those include low-cost, no-cost, sliding scale, everything from community-based programs that provide meals, all the way through in-home care agencies. So, very important to know where your aging office is, for yourself, and for your family members as well.
Gen Plus: Many older women are easy targets for con artists, how can you assess who are the best and most trust-worthy resources for a woman without financial knowledge?
Ginzler: It is pretty horrific to know that today in the United States how much scamming is going on, essentially, what I would call financial exploitation. It’s financial abuse in some cases if you think about it, taking advantage of somebody who does not know.
Ginzler notes that AARP recommends using a professional certified financial planner to help guide you through some of this important financial decision-making. In addition, she says to ask for references, contact those references, and have very open conversations.
You might be seeking some legal advice related to your financial situation. There are attorneys that are recognized as elder law attorneys that do know how to plan for the future. You can find your elder law attorneys through your local bar association, and if you go through that, you at least know that they have recognized themselves as being experts in this area, and have been acknowledged by that bar association to at least be appropriate to be reached. You also have to interview several, be a wise shopper. When we go out to buy a pair of shoes, we usually try on several pairs before we buy the pair that fits the best. You should do that with the person you’re seeking to engage in some pretty significant and important decision-making. Talk to more than one individual and pick the one that’s the best match to you.
Gen Plus: For a woman who recognizes that she doesn’t have enough financial resources to support herself once she can no longer earn, what are the three most important things she should do?
Ginzler: I think that’s a great question, and I love lists of things to do, so here’s what I would say that woman, many of us that are in that category, should do. One: think about how long you think you need to be in the workplace, because that’s going to be an important decision-maker. Two: make yourself a budget and I would actually recommend that you use the tools on the aarp.org website, to create that budget for yourself today and in the future. And I would say the third thing you need to do is look at the tools that are on our website, aarp.org/decide, that are going to help you craft that plan for the future and help you in that decision making now, that will lead to a really rich future for yourself, rich in a broad way.
Some solid resources, once again, from AARP. If anywhere in your New Year’s resolutions, financial concerns are in your top ten, then head over to the site and check out some of these great planning tools.