Three: How to Use This Book
Author & Industry Influencer
Given the different stages of planning and different generational compositions of each family, you will want to individualize the information and guidance in this book. However, these three simple steps—the book’s foundation—can be used in any order. We will follow the Jones family as they personalize the steps, resources, and tools to create a plan that fits their family’s needs, budget, and goals. Here are the three steps to get started.
Step One: Create a Care Guide
Plan for immediate family care needs by creating a Care Guide filled with current, accurate information about each member of your family. It’s a great place to start for yourself, your children, and your aging parents. The guide can be handed to doctors, health-care workers, and other service professionals in times of urgent need. Care Guides eliminate stress by consolidating and organizing crucial, up-to-date information. Creating a Care Guide is also a great way to get everyone working together and start those difficult conversations regarding health and safety. It’s the “I care” conversation. Someone may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. The process of creating family Care Guides is the perfect icebreaker to kickstart planning.
Step Two: Select a Care Squad
The objective of the Care Squad is to create a process for family members to react effectively when emergencies arise. It’s the “what if” conversation. A Care Squad can help families avoid chaos and delays in a crisis situation. The Care Squad designates who does what when something goes wrong. Who goes over to Mom and Dad’s house to be with them? Who calls the doctor or an ambulance? Who’s in charge of handing over the Care Guide to health-care professionals? Who contacts other family members or friends? You get the idea. Everyone knows their role in advance and can spring into action with a clear understanding of how they can help.
Step Three: Assign a Care Planning Team
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
—Ruth Bader Ginsberg
The care planning team (CPT) provides a multigenerational structure for discussion and assessment in the long-term care planning process. CPT members each have a voice. As a group, they research available options that suit each generation’s immediate, extended, or long-term care needs. The generational diversity of the group encourages and requires respect and an understanding of different lifestyles and generational priorities. It’s the “discovery” conversation. When it is time to seek professional advice or support, the CPT members should be educated consumers—ready to discuss options, ask relevant questions, and make decisions.
These three simple steps are achievable. They provide a gateway to important conversations that are often hard to start but are always better to have before a crisis hits. Even though the Jones family is fictitious, these scenarios play out every day. Hopefully, seeing the Jones family work through their issues, choices, and roadblocks will inspire you and give you courage to take the first step in the planning process with multigenerational family members and/or friends.
My mission is to demystify the extended and long-term care planning process and to provide actionable information that you can use to help your family prepare for a financially stable future. The emphasis is on uncovering potential options and not on recommending specific financial products or services. Products and services may apply differently to your situation and new products and services will be introduced over time, but my hope is this story increases your familiarity with available options and moves you to action. Knowledge is a powerful tool.