What to consider for long-term care planning

My client, who I’ll call Mary, drove away from a tour of a retirement community last week after culminated months of consideration of long-term care choices.

Together over many conversations, we have been wading through considerations of long-term care planning for Mary and her husband.  At 55 and 65 years old respectively, they could be 20 years away from becoming residents of this community.

As many of my financial planning clients age and some take on the daunting task of caring for elderly parents, long-term care planning has become a regular topic in my office.  Financial planning is really about life planning—for the near future and for the long haul.  Ours is a life-long conversation that helps my clients receive clear understanding about how they see their future and what steps can be taken to secure it.

Mary has been caring for her now 91-year old parents for 10 years.  She has seen first hand the financial and human resources this demands.  “We want our children to have less of a burden than I have had when we reach the age of needing this level of care.” 

Making plans for ourselves as we age MUST include exploring how we wish to live in those fragile years and months before we die.  Mary and her husband have made terrific strides toward their goals of educating their children and planning for an active, fulfilling retirement.  “I’m not so afraid anymore of being the gray haired 85-year old woman pushing a walker.  I now see myself in a vibrant community of people, living my life as fully engaged as my health will allow until the very end.” 

Best selling author and Harvard University Professor of Medicine and Public Health Atul Gawande states in his ground-breaking book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End: “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”  While talking about the end of life can be difficult, I encourage my clients to make life decisions that will support their best life lived to the very end.

The long-term care industry is changing rapidly as the demographics of the U.S. population shifts.* Baby boomers are retiring and their elderly parents are in higher levels of care.  The data supports the importance of considering options for long-term care as early as possible.  The options for how and where to receive care and how to prepare financially for this time in life are complex and vary from individual to individual.  They are best considered in the context of a conversation that takes into account your life, your goals, and your financial resources.

I encourage you to have this conversation with a trusted financial advisor, to find the options for your long-term care that give you confidence to live your best life now.  

* While this blog post does not review all the data, there are, however, two terrific sources for understanding these shifts and statistics about long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site, longtermcare.gov provides important basic understanding of the need for long term care.  Christine Benz of Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia puts the statistics together in a 40 item list that I find compelling: 40 Must-Know Statistics About Long-Term Care.

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TAGS: retirement planning long-term care planning

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Gift Planning


Duke University’s Office of Gift Planning specializes in charitable gift planning for estates, charitable trusts and annuities, and other complex current and future gift plans.

For more information, please contact the Duke University Office of Gift Planning at 919-681-0464 or giftplanning@duke.edu.