Life resource planning: a rewarding new approach to working with aging seniors
By Thomas Day
The National Care Planning Council
Other than life resource planning, a comprehensive approach to helping aging seniors solve their financial problems does not currently exist. If you have a desire to work with seniors, there is virtually no competition for your services using life resource planning.
It is true that attorneys and eldercare managers serve some of the needs that are addressed by this new concept, but only life resource planning offers a formally organized process to help aging seniors with all aspects of their lives.
These are the resources that aging seniors have available to them:
Identifying aging seniors
Seniors are the fastest-growing population, not only in the United States, but in the world. Currently, individuals age 65 and over represent 13 percent of our national population – about 41 million people – and that number will grow to 20 percent -- 88 million-- in only 38 years. Seniors also control a great deal of the wealth in this country.
For purposes of life resource planning, an aging senior is any older individual who is experiencing a change in lifestyle. Most healthy, active seniors ignore this type of planning. The need for planning is typically initiated when a family realizes that their loved one's savings and investments will run out, the senior's health is failing or the senior is losing his or her independence.
It is often at this point that one or more of the children of the aging senior intervenes to seek direction from someone such as a life resource planner. Many life resource plans are created and implemented as a partnership between the children and the aging parent. This relationship also gives the planner an opportunity to help the children of the aging senior prepare for long-term care for their future. The optimization goals for life resource planning
1. Optimizing income
- finding new sources of income
- finding government services to pay for costs
- enhancing income derived from assets
- tapping into real estate equity
- reducing income taxes
- making and updating legal arrangements
- implementing asset protection and estate planning strategies
- structuring insurance
- understanding and planning for Medicaid issues
- using personal service contracts
- implementing capital gains and estate tax strategies
- implementing strategies for improving or maintaining health
- understanding medical care issues
- planning for major medical incidents
- planning for end of life, including funeral trusts
- identifying community support systems for the elderly
- implementing personal service arrangements
- identifying government and private support for long-term care
- ensuring family consensus for caregiving
- putting together a long-term care plan
- solving family disputes over assets
- identifying appropriate places to live based on security, cost and support
- identifying government support for living arrangements
- tapping into equity
- enlisting help for downsizing and moving
- maximizing the sale of property
Life resource planning involves a team approach to solving problems and making life better for our elderly clients. Anywhere from 10 to 20 different specialists who serve the elder community work together under the alliance of a local support team to help seniors optimize their resources for their remaining years of life. Participating team members do not represent a formal business organization but instead an involved informal group of like-minded individuals. They charge separately for their services. These services generate more good by helping seniors improve their lives.
Benefits for you from helping aging seniors
You, as a life resource planner, are the key member of the support team. A life resource planner is typically a financial advisor, insurance agent, an attorney, a care manager, a home care company or a seniors real estate specialist. You will derive fees from helping aging seniors optimize their resources. In addition, your planning will often uncover the need for your products or services, which you will offer as a separate activity from the planning to avoid a conflict of interest.
A byproduct of life resource planning is that you frequently work directly with the children of aging seniors. These adult children typically range in age from the late 40s to early 60s. Because of the demands of dealing with their parents, the children have become true believers in the need for this type of planning for themselves. For these younger individuals, the planning takes the form of preparing for long-term care, retirement planning and putting in place necessary legal documents. You will have the opportunity of helping them with this preparation.