Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, M.D. CFP®, Director of Financial Planning, Life Planning Partners
People tend to be in denial about needing help managing their finances and everyday life routines as they get older. The consequences of not talking about and planning for the aging process with your family can be emotionally and financially devastating. The good news is financial planners like Carolyn McClanahan know the risks are high and work with their clients and other advisors to make sure these conversations are occurring. In this episode, Kathleen interviews Carolyn about this myth and how you and your family members can bust through it before it’s too late.
- Consider creating a Financial Care Taking Plan. This plan answers the question, “Who will take care of your finances if you become unable to do so?” Take time to consider how financial decisions will be made if you get into an accident, have a medical crisis, or experience some cognitive decline that prevents you paying bills, managing your investments, and making sure your assets are protected. Let family members know where accounts are and consider adding them to these accounts in case of emergency.
- Decide on the best living situation as you age. Talk with your family and your healthcare professional about your options. If you want to continue to live in your home as you age, find out what type of home healthcare is available, the cost of the care, and what home improvements (ex. adding hand railing in the bathrooms or making the home wheelchair accessible) Also explore assisted-living housing options in your area in case staying in your house no longer becomes feasible.
- Determine when you will stop driving. Driving is one of the hotter topics family members have to deal with as their parents or spouse age. Be proactive and design a transportation plan for getting around if you no longer can drive. Many families use car services, taxis, and Ubers in addition to enlisting relatives to help out. It helps to designate a family member now, when you are capable of driving, to let you know when it is time to get off the road.
- Communicate your healthcare wishes. Make sure you craft an estate plan with an estate attorney’s help that includes a healthcare proxy. This is a fancy word for designating a person to make healthcare decisions if you are not medically or emotionally capable of doing so. Ask yourself, “Who will help you make or to make the healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself?” Once you have decided on a health care proxy, communicate your preferences for your end-of-life care. While this is a topic that may be hard to focus on now when you are healthy, letting your family know your wishes is a gift that will reduce stress and be comforting as they prepare to say goodbye.
In addition to Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances, and Live a Richer Life, check out this book, Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott as it is one of Carolyn’s favorites.
Dr. McClanahan is a physician turned financial planner who speaks regularly on the interplay between health and financial issues, particularly regarding aging, chronic illness, end-of-life, long-term care, healthcare reform, and healthcare costs. She is also co-founder of Whealthcare Planning, the gold standard in aging planning software, and writes for Forbes and Financial Planning Magazine. Dr. McClanahan is quoted regularly in the Washington Post, New York Times, and CNBC. She has also been featured on NPR.