Gladbrook, Iowa is a charming, small Midwestern community. I can recall as a child taking the long drive with my family to visit my Great Aunt Lillian at her home. Her modest brick home had a warm charm to it, much like she did. Aunt Lillian survived the great depression as a young adult and witnessed the birth of the “Greatest Generation”, a term created by journalist Tom Brokaw. Mr. Brokaw described this generation’s greatest societal obstacles as the Great Depression, WWI, and WWII. In addition, between 1943 and 1960, this generation produced what we know as the “Baby Boom Generation”.
Even though I was young, I can recall my family having discussions and making healthcare decisions as it pertained to Aunt Lillian’s aging process. It was not easy then as it is not easy now. Eventually, it was time to sell her home and transition to a more suitable retirement community that could offer her the healthcare and lifestyle support she needed.
That process was nearly 30 years ago and only one thing has really changed since then and that is the depth and magnitude of those aging issues. The LTC service provider industry needs to brace itself for the tsunami wave of baby boomers that are coming. Make no mistake about it, the LTC care issues of today will only grow larger as does the aging population of this country.
I feel the biggest societal obstacle for the boomers may be what they will have to overcome as they become more involved in the LTC healthcare provider system. Are the boomers and the industry truly ready for the demands that will be put upon the system? When you mix the demographics with the issues, the LTC provider system is squarely in the middle.
Today, a person will typically begin utilizing LTC services at home first. Many in-home examples include immediate family members, a nurse, a home health aide, or a therapist. In addition to in-home care, one could also utilize community support services in their area. These would include adult day care service centers, transportation services, and home care agencies that provide services on a daily or “as needed” basis. Outside of the home, one will need to look for assisted living communities or a continuing care retirement community. Obviously, most consumers of health care want to remain in their home for as long as possible and delay facility care. Those that are proactive in understanding the options, costs, and availability are much more likely to achieve that path.
The issues of aging are far reaching. As a wealth management advisor, we want to focus on the issues of creating, protecting and eventually transferring wealth for our clients. Our clients share with us what they envision for themselves during retirement. The visions must be backed by the financial resources to achieve those goals. However, a long-term retirement plan is not complete without understanding all of the risks to your plan, especially the LTC needs. Trying to create a plan after such an event is usually a great way to limit your options and a successful outcome. Everyone needs to address the potential time bomb that a prolonged LTC event could have on their family’s future. If you have a plan in place you should be able to recognize which piece of advice makes sense for you and your situation.
Written by Phil E. Gose