Some people assume that we’re all living longer so it must be because we’re healthier, right? We are indeed living longer than ever due to advances in medicine and technology but what is the condition we’re in with longevity? It’s not true that we’re living healthier than the prior generation.

If you help clients plan for retirement, consider that things like obesity, in 30-35% of Boomers, are going to affect whether they need to pay for lots of things Medicare does not cover. Obesity is frequently associated with significantly greater risk for heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Boomers have the highest rates of obesity of any age group in the U.S. If you want to pick conditions that are most likely to result in the need for long term care, all of these are among them.

Retirement planning can be very tricky when it comes to considering the cost of long term care. Most people don’t want to have a conversation about what would happen if they became disabled. Most would rather change the subject quickly if the issue of possible diminished capacity is raised. “That’s not going to happen to me!” is the expected response. But the risk is real, and there are plenty of statistics to support an analysis of what it costs to care for a person with disabling health conditions.

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, which comes out annually, 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some kind of long term support as they age. At AgingInvestor.com, we recommend that every financial professional have the latest study on hand and that you share it with your clients when you do retirement planning. Chances are they are not as healthy as their parents were. And what kind of care will they need?

Most people want to stay at home as they age. Many will use home care services to be able to stay at home. Here’s an example. My now 93 year old mother in law, Alice, has had numerous hospitalizations of late, for blood pressure issues, the flu and other problems. She simply isn’t safe living independently at home as she recovers and a home care worker is coming in every day for now at a cost of $25 per hour. That cost is not paid by Medicare.

She’s a good example of how we can need care with advanced age even if we do things right. She has always taken good care of herself, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t abuse alcohol, exercises regularly and keeps her weight in normal range. And yet, after this recent bout of illness she needs 24/7 care for a time. We hope she stabilizes with all efforts but there are no guarantees. Home care could be needed indefinitely at a cost even part-time of at least $20,000 per year.

The extra $20,000 she may need is for someone who has neither heart disease nor diabetes. Those put a person at even greater risk of needing expensive care. So for the financial advisor, the takeaway message is this:

Expect that anyone who reaches the age of 80 will be much more likely than not to need cash to pay for help of some kind. If your client is overweight or obese, the risk is very high. Ditto if your client smokes. Be sure to plan for assets that will be liquid enough to cover what your client may need in those later years. It’s up to you to educate that client to be realistic about future financial needs.

Educating your clients about issues that will likely affect them is just what the regulators want you to do. You can find out more about regulatory recommendations for senior clients and get ahead of any mandates from them in Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisors Guide to Best Practices. Get your copy now by clicking HERE.

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