The Earlier You Plan, the More Options You Have
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Currently, many families both in the United States and abroad are caring for a parent while also caring for immediate family members and the generation beneath them. It’s a natural life cycle. The term sandwich generation has been around for a long time, but comprehending its meaning is more important than ever with science and medical advances keeping us alive longer. This has put more adults with children and aging parents or close friends in the middle of a complicated juggling act.
Longevity is a blessing that exacerbates and intensifies the need to plan for extended or long-term care—and we’re not just talking about health-care needs. There are also lifestyle needs. The need to age in a setting that allows for interaction with others to avoid depression or misplaced anger is well documented. Loneliness and isolation can be deadly, literally. There are also financial needs. Worrying about running out of money or being forced to move out of familiar surroundings is stressful. These issues ripple through a family’s financial stability and relationships. From a macroeconomic and cultural viewpoint, these shifts are impacting societal norms. According to the Pareto principle, 80 percent of the consequences stem from 20 percent of the causes. One family member, or one close friend, who looks to you for help with extended or long-term care needs can impact your life in ways you don’t anticipate. The COVID-19 pandemic was a nasty wake-up call for the entire world. It opened all of our eyes to the limitations of the government, the health-care system, and even families’ abilities to provide safe and adequate care when things go wrong at a local, state, national, or global level.
The earlier you plan, the more options you have. Some options may not be available if you wait to plan and most certainly will be more expensive. Various options are linked to your chronological age. If you plan early, you may have time to amass needed funds for an option that suits you. Planning early helps you understand how government programs may be integrated into a plan. Some options depend on your good health. It is usually easier to qualify at younger ages. Still other options are available to you as a homeowner if you plan to age at home. Planning early may allow you to move taxable savings into a long-term care program, which may ameliorate the tax hit. The sooner the better is the best timing for extended and long-term care planning.
However you define family, unplanned extended and long-term care issues ripple and/or rip through a family’s financial stability and relationships. The only remedy is to plan; and the best plan is a result of becoming organized and educated about which options work best for your situation.