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When Aging Parents Need Financial Help

When Aging Parents Need Financial Help

How to engage the family & put everyone’s minds at ease

It’s hard to grow old. It’s even harder to watch someone you love get old. But hardest of all is stepping in when age becomes an issue. Though this may seem like a family issue, stepping in at the right time is critical to your client’s financial future. “It’s like asking when it’s time to look for a new dentist. It’s right then, when you’re asking that question,” says Lyle Wolberg, Senior Financial Life Advisor and Partner at Telemus Capital. More importantly, in an increasingly holistic advising model, advisers should take an interest in their client’s health and well-being.  So how do you know when to step in? Just like the dentist – if you’re reading this, you probably need the information.

The Health-Wealth Connection: Your clients’ greatest fears are their children’s worst nightmare.

There are two worries lingering in the back of every parent’s mind:                                                                                                           “Who is going to take care of me when I’m older?” “How can I avoid being a burden to my family?” Their adult children have the same fears, in addition to the responsibility of burdening their parents’ fears.  This is a key opportunity for advisors to step in and help show the family the steps that have been taken to preserve wealth and cover care needs.
Affluent Clients’ Fears Their Adult Children’s Fears
Percent concerned about their own financial security if the following family members developed serious health conditions Top concerns of affluent adult children are health related
Health Wealth Client Fears

Advisors as trusted support systems for their clients

A financial advising team can become a family’s trusted yet unbiased support system. Through annual team-wide meetings, you can develop a relationship with your client and their family. Even though adult children don’t have full, if any, control over their parent’s finances, it’s important that they feel welcome at the table. In an interview, Lyle from Telemus Capital confirms that “If you have this trusted adviser team, it’s so much easier for a child or spouse to come to the team. You cannot insert yourself in a client’s family, but you can certainly make them feel welcome in yours. As your clients age, this relationship is the first step at confronting your client’s issue. It may be hard for them to hear from their child that they should no longer have full control over their finances. It’s much easier to hear this from an entire team of independent advisers. There is power in numbers.”  
In this conversation, financial advisers have a set of tools to limit, but not remove, their client’s autonomy. Lyle notes that all of these changes should be gradual. After all, clients are used to controlling their own wealth. Rather than eliminating their access to checking accounts, advisers can instead require that all withdrawals and checks must have two signatures. Your client will maintain the feeling that they can spend money freely, while their habits are checked by a spouse or adult child. Advisers can also set up automatic bill paying to reduce their involvement in wealth management. However, Lyle reminds us that phrasing is key. Advisers should emphasize that it’s a service to lessen their client’s burden, not a punishment for their aging. He suggests the following approach as a way for an advisor to start the conversation: “Let’s take away some of the day-to-day responsibility for you guys, so you don’t have to worry about paying your bills and you can enjoy your retirement.” Confronting these issues will always be a unique experience for children and advisers. A client’s specific situation and reaction will vary from one experience to the next, but involving family members as early as possible is key to the success of every case. GenivityFamily can help you start these conversations by helping advisors engage clients and the clients’ families in understanding their health risks and care costs.  This value-added service provides an opportunity to deepen client relationships with both spouses and their adult children in conversations about decisions about caregiving, end-of-life decisions and wealth transfer.
Lyle Wolberg

Lyle Wolberg


Lyle is one of the founding Partners of Telemus and is responsible for working with some of the firm’s largest relationships. As a former Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch and Senior Vice President–Investments at UBS Financial Services, Lyle has more than 21 years of industry experience across all facets of financial wealth planning and investment management. Lyle is a Certified Financial Planner and a member of the Financial Planning Association.
What to Pack In Your First Aid Kit When You Travel

What to Pack In Your First Aid Kit When You Travel

It’s been almost a year since I hit the open road for the trip of a lifetime. With my husband and daughter, we packed up everything we owned, put it in a POD, moved out of our house, and spent 15,000 miles on what we called Happy Summer.  From May through September, we visited 27 states, taking us as far west as Colorado, south to Florida and north to Maine. It was, in a word, epic. We could only pack necessities so that the three of us, a car seat, a skateboard, a bicycle, a cooler and two work/computer bags could fit in the back of our borrowed SUV. That meant one tub of clothing for each of us, one tub of toys to keep the four-year-old entertained and one smaller “bathroom” tub. It was no small task narrowing down a 2,800 square foot house to 100 cubic feet on wheels, but we did it. Successfully so, if I may be so bold. The clothes weren’t a problem, after all, it was summer and we needed only a few shorts, tanks, swimsuits and sundresses to see us through. The mobile bathroom was a trick, though. I didn’t take a hair dryer, nor most of the 1,400 other items that we thought we couldn’t live without at home. It really was an exercise in practicing need over want, truly defining necessity. Here’s what I learned about narrowing down the necessities to fill a first aid kit when you travel, cross-country or much closer to home. Prescriptions: Any daily or frequent medications should certainly make the trip. If traveling by plane, keep those in a carry-on in case your baggage gets lost. The CDC recommends carrying copies of prescriptions and their generic names. If traveling abroad, make sure your prescriptions will clear customs. Not all drugs are allowed in every country. Thermometer: We use a one-click, touchless digital thermometer. It packs easily, reads quickly and saved us from panicking a few times. Better to take up space with that than be stranded somewhere feeling helpless (especially if traveling with children). Children’s medication: Pack a children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen (whichever you prefer). Again, better to have it with you than scramble for a place that may have it (never mind hotel or gas station mark-up prices!). Ouchie basics: We did travel with first aid kid basics — bandages, peroxide, Neosporin. Those are things we keep in our car trunk’s first aid kit anyway. By plane or for a short trip, keep a few in your toiletries bag or purse. Otherwise, there’s no need to pack the entire box. Medicine cabinet basics: If you’re going on an extended trip like we did, it’s worthwhile to pack your brand of pain reliever (Advil, Tylenol, Aleve), antacid, anti-diarrheal and a preferred sleep aid (if necessary). Otherwise, purse-sized bottles are fine or these items can easily be picked up at any destination as needed. Other basics: If the time is right, pack tampons, pads or other period products. If traveling to a noisy location, like NYC or Vegas, toss in a pack of ear plugs (great for long flights, too!). Take sunblock if you’re spending any amount of time outside (it’s already expensive and twice as much in tourist locations). Really, anything outside of basic necessities can be picked up as needed. Don’t pack for just in case unless you’re going on an extended trip by car. Save yourself the space and just like we did, you’ll very quick learn the difference between want and need.
Is it time for your parent to move to an assisted living facility?

Is it time for your parent to move to an assisted living facility?

Is it time for assisted living? How to help your parents through the transition

Americans are living longer than ever before, with the average life expectancy now being 78.8 years. This increased lifespan has its advantages, allowing families to have multiple generations of family members. But as parents and relatives age, there are also some stresses if they can no longer manage on their own. It may not be obvious at first that a parent or older relative needs help with everyday activities, or it may come up very suddenly, after an accident, for example. Anne, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, lived through both these situations with her parents. Her father entered a memory care unit when he was 85 years old, and her mother went to live in an assisted living facility three months ago, at the age of 93. Her father has since died but she recalls the moment it became clear he needed more care. “My parents had been very healthy very late in life. Rather suddenly, we noticed that my dad had gotten ‘lost’ when out driving and doing errands,” Anne explains. “He was getting up and dressed for church in the middle of the night.” But it was a bout of dehydration that triggered a hospital stay, which was followed by some time in a rehabilitation facility, Anne says. “At that point, he needed to be admitted to [an assisted living facility] for memory care, for his own safety.” Anne’s mother’s situation started rather suddenly when she fell and broke her ankle. While she recovered physically and was able to return home, Anne and her siblings became concerned over their mother’s increasing anxiety. “The anxiety became unbearable and she got to where she did not want to be alone,” Anne says.

Warning signs that assisted living may be needed

Emotional and psychological changes, such as anxiety, can be one of many behaviors that may show a senior isn’t coping well alone. “Have there been any obvious signs or changes in their emotional state and/or social interaction?” asks Mark Winter, president of Hired Hands Homecare, in California. “Are there clear signs of being overly forgetful or confused?” Sometimes, sudden changes in mental status can be due to an illness, like an infection, or a side effect of medicines. If a doctor hasn’t been able to find a physical cause for the change, some sort of help at home or a move to assisted living may be the best option. Other signs that someone may need help include:
  • Not taking medicines properly or at all
  • Falls
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Inability to get to the bathroom, urine and/or stool incontinence
  • Not paying bills
  • Inability to call 911 in case of emergency

Why mileage matters

One problem many American families face is that of distance between family members. Many adult children live hours away from their parents or older relatives. This can add to their stress because they may not know how their relatives are coping. Susan Scatchell, the community liaison for A Abiding Care in Illinois, says that her agency sees an increase in calls around holidays when family members return home for a visit. “We usually see a blip in phone calls inquiring about home care services, as this may be the first time the adult children have seen their parents in a few months, and the home or personal conditions may be deteriorating,” she explains. Scatchell suggests that if family members can’t check in themselves, hiring an agency that can send a professional to assess the situation on a weekly or monthly basis may be a good solution. “This can help bridge the gap between the children, physician, and ER. This clinical professional can report to the family about what they observe.”

How siblings can ease the transition

Siblings may not always agree on the best way to help a parent, but cooperation is essential for a smooth transition to assisted care or assisted living. Anne is the closest, geographically, to her mother, but she and her brothers worked together to prepare their mother for the move to assisted living. “My brothers and I planned everything and worked very closely with the management and staff,” she says. “We would keep mom in the loop but try not to make her worry. We were very involved and each took on responsibilities and duties we were most suited for.”

What to look for in an assisted living facility

Preparing for a move into assisted care should begin as soon as possible – before it’s actually needed when possible. “Start the conversation early and before there is a medical event, because then you are in crisis mode,” Scatchell advises. “If you have a plan, you may not need to implement it. Families that don’t have a plan at all are the ones in crisis and make quick, uninformed decisions, feelings get hurt, and families get angry and resent each other over time.” Physical preparation is also important. Bonnie Charpentier, RN, Executive Director of Nursing at Partners in Healthcare, in Florida, says that downsizing is a good first step. Also, the parent or relative should visit four to six facilities that are close to family and friends, and within their price range. She suggests paying attention to:
  • How the facility smells
  • State or Federal records for infractions
  • Patient to caregiver ratio
  • Daily activities offered (do they match the parent’s or relative’s interests?)
  • Dietary options
  • Any add-on costs
Scatchell adds that visiting a facility multiple times at different times of the day is also helpful in assessing its suitability.

When the best option is home health care

If the choice is to bring help into the home, rather than moving, Winter suggests keeping these points in mind when hiring an at-home care company:
  • Are the caregivers thoroughly screened?
  • Does the organization provide training for its employees and closely manage the care provided?
  • Is there open communication with the family at all times?
  • How long has the organization been in business?
  • What qualifications does the management team possess?
Anne and her family are happy with how things worked out for them. “I feel we made the best decisions possible for both of my parents,” she says. “I think my mom would say now that she should have moved to a retirement community sooner and not waited so long. She drove up to 92 years of age and, of all things, this is what she misses the most!” For people who are going through this in their family, Anne has these words of advice: “Realize that it is almost inevitable that a parent move to assisted living for safety and well-being and companionship. It is hard to think that your parents are eventually not going to be able to take care of themselves completely, but facing it is the first step. Always be positive and include them as much as possible.”
8 health questions to ask before getting married

8 health questions to ask before getting married

Congratulations on your engagement! Hopefully, your partner asked beforehand about your allergies to precious metals and beautiful gemstones. Joking aside, the health issues that will arise in your future together are unavoidable and the way you talk about these matters is crucial to your success as a couple. Health questions you need to ask each other before tying the knot What are your wishes if something were to happen to you unexpectedly? This question is intriguing because its content is implied even in the marriage vows themselves (“Til death do us part”), says Michelle Katz, MSN, LPN. It may seem gruesome to enter into a discussion about your end-of-life wishes just as you are embarking on the start of a new life together. But your partner will likely be left to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make these decisions on your own and it is crucial that you discuss your preferences before faced with an emergency situation. “A power of attorney/advance directive should be signed immediately, even with the marriage certificate,” says Katz. What health problems run in your family? Make sure to ask about cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions often have a hereditary component, so when you ask about these conditions you are not only asking on behalf of your partner and his or her potential future health challenges but also about the health risks for your future children. It is also important to ask about more explicit single-gene disorders, such as Huntington’s disease, Fragile X syndrome or bleeding disorders. What mental health concerns run in your family? Key issues that you should know about include alcohol or drug abuse. Ask if there are people in the family with a history of depression, suicide attempts, or personality disorders. This may feel uncomfortable, but knowledge is power. Not only are you protecting your partner by having this knowledge, you are also educating yourself about the genes that may cause future problems in your marriage, or may pose challenges for your children. How are we going to take care of our parents in the future?  Ah, the aging parent question. In the dawn of ever-rising life expectancy and healthcare costs, it may be just as important as your vision for raising children. You may be surprised about your partner’s answer to this question. Maybe he or she envisioned having sick or elderly parents pursue care at an independent facility, citing their fiercely independent spirits. Or, maybe your partner always planned on having an aging parent move into his or her home. Families can vary radically on their views of how to care for the elderly, and this issue can put a strain on a marriage if two people do not see eye to eye. The options available currently in our society are daunting — and costly. “I just had a situation where a patient’s parents were sent to a skilled nursing facility and now long term insurance is running out,” says Katz. Make sure to discuss your desires long before you have to make tough decisions. Do you want to have kids? This may seem obvious. But sometimes it is not discussed before marriage, which can cause some major issues later on, says Dr. Allen Kamrava, MD, MBA, a board-certified surgeon in Beverly Hills, CA. Make sure to discuss how many kids you would like to have as well. Kamrava reports that throughout his years of practice he has also seen couples struggle because they have not had a conversation about their views on pregnancy complications. An important question to ask, he says: “If prenatal screening of your baby shows some issue, would you want the child no matter what, or would you wish to have an abortion?” Depending on your partner’s answer, it may be wise to discuss the type of prenatal screening that you and your partner would be comfortable with because certain screens can have false positive results. Have you ever been pregnant before? This question is important to ask ahead of time because it will come up in future medical visits, especially if you are expecting to have children. You do not want your partner to be blind-sided by new information at your first prenatal visit. Past pregnancies are important because they can have an effect on future pregnancy prospects, especially if you and your partner end up having infertility concerns later on. Have you ever had an STD? “Engaged couples should have full disclosure of health issues prior to marriage,” says Jim Hjort, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist. One very important topic to ask about is about STDs, says Hjort. This issue transcends the obvious concerns about a personal contraction of a disease, to more important issues of future fertility. “STDs can cause problems with conceiving later in life. It’s important to discuss the desire to have children and the possible hurdles to overcome in order to make that dream a reality.” Furthermore, STD status can pose questions about fidelity years into a marriage, says Nicole Prause, Ph.D., a couples therapist. Prause says she has seen this issue arise many times in her practice. “The overwhelming majority of people with sexually transmitted infections do not know that they have the infection,” says Prause. “Couples should ask each other to get a full panel of tests for infections transmitted during sex. This can save the significant turmoil of discovering that the infection has been shared late in the marriage and having to worry about infidelity.” Have you ever used IV drugs? Despite his or her insistence that life began the day you two met, your partner had an existence before you came into the picture. It does you no good to assume that there was no dangerous experimentation that took place just because you are afraid to ask. If your partner did use IV drugs, he or she is at risk for harboring chronic blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis C and HIV and passing them along to you. If your partner answers “yes” to this question, he or she should get tested. How to have these conversations This discussion can seem daunting. Lisa Bahar, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, suggests that approaching the conversation as a way to identify potential areas of vulnerability in the marriage may make it seem less intrusive. “Be open or willing to respectfully discuss family origin and issues that challenged your family dynamics, and consider seeing a family therapist that can explore a genogram to gain further knowledge,” she says.
10 Beautiful Sentiments to Write in a Sympathy Card

10 Beautiful Sentiments to Write in a Sympathy Card

Symbols Of Hearts And Love On A Light Background We watched the news in horror, our grief raw and gnawing. The news of my boyfriend’s younger brother dying was splashed across the screen in unfeeling, clinical terms. He was in a car accident that left two people dead. The phone immediately started to ring. Our few hours of quiet mourning were over. The support and love we received over those awful days, especially for my boyfriend’s family, helped begin the healing process over the sudden loss of life. It can be difficult to know what to say in a sympathy card, particularly if you want to choose just the right words. Here are some ideas to get started.

Tips to keep in mind

Wade Courtney, who lost a 19-year-old daughter, had two pieces of advice. “I can’t tell you how grateful I was for my friends and family. There are really no words that can make loss easier. The best thing was people who kept it simple, left religion out of it and were just there to listen.” What Courtney learned was to tailor the message to the recipient. If you’re religious, but the bereaved isn’t, leave that out of the sentiment. Think of words of comfort that will work for that person, at that moment in time. If you are both religious, let those words comfort the bereaved. Courtney also wrote a blog post about how many written sentiments are conveyed via social media. “I posted on Facebook about our loss. We received hundreds of private messages and comments on our loss. People expressed what Evelyn had meant to them on our Facebook pages, as well as Evelyn’s. “

10 sentiments to adapt to the situation

  • May your time with friends and family bring you memories of happier days and give you peace.
  • As long as one is remembered, one lives on.
  • I wish for peace for you and your family.
  • As you grieve, know we remember you and honor the memory of [name].
  • Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow.
  • May the comfort of friends and family help bring you peace as we all remember [name’s] life and spirit.
  • Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
  • Include a poem or saying that helped you through a time of grief your hope that it brings comfort to them as well.
  • “What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” ~ Helen Keller
  • We were coworkers of [name]. Words cannot express our sorrow. The office won’t be the same without him/her.
Any personal anecdote you can add about the deceased will help their loved ones. A college story or a work tale can give the grieving a glimpse into the life shared with others. The story lets family and loved ones know how the person’s life affected others for the better. We would like to share more phrases of comfort. If you’d like to share a sentiment that touched you or a loved one, please share in the comments section. For those still grieving with loss, we wish you peace and healing.