Aging in America

SAS Financial Advisors LLC |

More positive economic data and more records. Americans are still unhappy about the economy but more optimistic about their own finances.  Main street vs. Wall Street continues.  Wall street wins with the stock market, main street wins with the economy and Americans are still unhappy.  Even worse, it is an election year with two octogenarians running for President. Maybe the resources and tools for aging in America will get more attention.  

Speaking of aging in America, it has been a topic of discussion with many clients as a result of their own aging or helping with their aging parents.  The challenge of aging has always been present but when generations of Americans lived in the same home there was a system in place. Now with families spread out around the world there are few who can take advantage of the last generations model. Do your parents have an estate plan?  Who are the trustees? Do they have advanced medical directives and appropriate powers of attorney?  Who has the power?  Were they informed when chosen and are they aware of their responsibilities?  Is there a backup plan?  The first step is for the parents and children to talk about the different lifestyle and financial obligations and planning. 

How is the current living situation in regard to accommodating the aging process?  Many seniors say they would prefer to age at home.  What kind of home setting has the resources and tools for aging in place? If not, can the home be modified to accommodate aging in place.  Will it be safe with modifications? Does the geographic location offer proximity to some family member or any significant person willing to be responsible.  These questions should be discussed among family members first among themselves then including the aging individuals.   If both parents are alive, then options have to be discussed if one spouse becomes disabled or passes and what are options for the surviving spouse.  When seniors discuss end of life issues, they usually state I want to go quickly or in my sleep or if I ever have severe cognitive impairment, I do not want to live like that-just make sure die.  Not a great plan.  


There are no easy answers but starting the discussion is important and a first and necessary but not sufficient step.  Of course, at the same time you should be making sure you have all your estate planning documents created and make sure the individuals you have chosen are aware of their being named.  Oftentimes it is hard for spouses to agree on who to name as custodian/guardian for their children, so nothing gets done.  


At a minimum, each individual should have a will and medical directives.  If you have children, you can only name guardian/custodian for minor children in a will.  If you have assets, especially a home then considers a trust based comprehensive estate plan.  






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