Life Long Planning

The Sudden Money Institute specializes in developing evidence-based programs and procedures that focus on managing the transitions we all experience in life. The primary topic of discussion at the Sudden Money Institute Annual Conference, which took place in Florida from November 16-18, 2015, was long-life planning. Michelle and I attended and were excited to hear the results of new research on the topic in an effort to help our clients plan for living longer and more fulfilling lives.

The conference’s keynote speaker on long-life planning was Dr. Moira Somers, a neuropsychologist with a specialty practice in financial psychology. She discussed the range of different emotions that long-life transitions stir up within us. Dr. Moira also explained how going through such transitions can affect our cognitive decision-making processes and offered financial advisors in the audience strategies and solutions to improve the quality of life for their clients.

The subject of long-life planning is a red-hot topic right now for several very important reasons. First, life expectancy continues to rise. Furthermore, studies show that people are staying much healthier later into their lives. There are myriad reasons for this increase in life expectancy, but three of the biggest are:

* Better food supply and nutrition (i.e., food and product packaging that displays nutritional content and the benefits of eating a balanced diet)
* Better preventive medicine (i.e., exercise and stress reduction)
* Better hygiene (i.e., the importance of hand washing and taking steps to clean and disinfect work and food preparation surfaces)

Certainly, better access to medical care and improvements in the quality of care are factors. So, too, are wellness programs designed to improve and promote health and fitness. All of these factors are worthy of your consideration as you and the people you care about prepare for a longer, happier and healthier life. Here are a few other ways that the odds of living longer can be improved:

Diet and Exercise: If you are like me, chances are you can improve your diet and find new and engaging ways to exercise more often. I speak from experience when I say the best exercises are the ones you are willing to do. The key is to remain active and not to take your health for granted. Take a brisk walk. Do light stretching. Climb the stairs instead of riding the escalator. You may not have time for a traditional workout, but look for ways to incorporate exercise into your day.

Find Your Way Home: How you live as you grow older may well depend on where you live. Is your current house bigger than it needs to be?  Is the climate suited to your health and disposition? Will your home require more care and maintenance than you can provide? Are you living in a home that is likely to be adequate years from now? If not, maybe you should consider finding a more suitable dwelling—one that fits your individual needs as well as your dreams.

Long-Term Care Insurance: It is a topic no one likes to talk about, but it is better to have an awkward conversation on the topic than none at all. If you contribute to your family’s finances (and don’t we all in one way or another?), this type of insurance can provide you with income should you become unable to work. Because medical issues—and their costs—can escalate as one gets older and near the end of one’s life, you should carefully examine whether a long-term care policy is right for your future or that of a loved one.

Estate Planning: Does your estate-planning policy accurately reflect your wishes? Are you sure it meets your current and future needs and those of your family? If not, it is time you reviewed it in detail. Burdening your children with an outdated estate plan places a tremendous burden on your family at a time when they are least prepared to address major financial issues should you become incapacitated or suddenly pass away.

All of the aforementioned factors are worthy of consideration as you and the people you care about prepare for a longer, happier and healthier life. The key to long-life planning is to make certain you are looking at your resources from the perspective of your probable life span. The reality is we all need to be aware of the options available to us before major health problems become an issue among our families, loved ones, and even friends.

If living longer, growing older, or becoming debilitated are topics you find difficult to discuss with family members, speak with an advisor at The Planning Center for support and strategies. Granted, aging presents us with a unique challenges, but with long-life planning you will be better prepared to meet them.