How to help clients start a travel fund
We’ll discuss the ways you can help your clients financially plan for travel, like how to save for and book a cost-effective trip.
The holidays are on the horizon, and for some clients, it is a rare opportunity for them to be gathered with their families in one location. Over the years, I have heard both positive and negative stories about long-term care (LTC) being brought up during holiday visits. However, bad reactions are often related to bad timing or faulty strategies in bringing up the topic.
Discussing parents’ or other loved one’s potential LTC and elder care needs should be done in person if at all possible, not by phone or email. With so many adult children living far away from their parents, the holiday season is one time when children come home to visit, making face to face conversations possible. These conversations are sometimes uncomfortable and emotional, and being able to have personal contact to comfort a family member having a hard time with the conversation can sometimes make or break success. With the right strategy and some thoughtful planning, a holiday can be the perfect time for your clients to discuss LTC and elder care planning with their families.
According to the 2021 Nationwide Long-term Care Study, as a result of the pandemic, 88% of adults feel it is more important than ever to have a long-term care plan in place. Still, only 42% of adults over all have talked with family about future potential LTC needs1. Worse yet with the Baby Boomers – who are old enough to have dealt with parents’ LTC challenges and are approaching their own – it was found that only 37% surveyed had discussed LTC planning with family.1
The effects of the pandemic, however, have brought the subject of LTC planning to the forefront. If there was ever a good time to broach this subject, it is now – when families are still immersed in the concerns of the pandemic and what it could mean for loved ones needing care in the future.
Whether one holiday is better than another to bring up LTC and elder care discussions is going to depend on the family, but here are some guidelines for your clients to think about.
Your clients will have to determine which holiday might be most appropriate for a LTC and elder care talk with their loved ones. As for my personal favorite, it is Thanksgiving – because it might check the most boxes for opening and maintaining a dialogue with family.
All families are different, and what works for one family may not work for another. But there are some “do’s and don’ts” to consider when planning a family discussion for parents’ future needs.
Eleventh hour planning can result in mistakes and lost opportunities for a better outcome. Despite all of the research saying that people are more open to these discussions than in the past, one should be prepared for a potential “backlash” when bringing up the conversation.
It has been found that 50% of family caregivers had no choice in taking on the role.2 Therefore, when a family member is resistant in having the discussion about planning for Mom and Dad, a rebuttal said kindly might be, “I thought it might be good to have this discussion while we are all together. We can start talking now about a plan for Mom and Dad, and discuss which of us are best suited for support roles – rather than have unexpected responsibilities thrust upon us. If something happens to Mom or Dad without a plan in place, we will be forced to scramble long distance to come up with solutions”.
It is important to remind your clients that discussing elder care and LTC issues takes time and should be done a step at a time and with compassion. It’s essential to discuss who will be the decision makers in charge of dealing with the parent’s needs as their ability to manage their own lives starts diminishing. Some families may spread out the responsibilities, while others may allocate most of the care-giving, advocacy and or financial management duties to one or two family members. But it is important that everyone is clear in advance who will be doing which tasks. Family dynamics can be delicate, and without a well laid-out plan that everyone is comfortable with, sibling and in-law relationships can easily deteriorate into a state of resentment and in-fighting.
People may get caught up in thinking about the risk of needing LTC then try to justify why they will not be in that risk pool. Some acknowledge they may need care, but place themselves in the group that “won’t need care for very long”, thus they plan for their family to handle their care. Even when the parents plan to care for each other, and consider their adult children to be the backup plan, those adult children are often not told that they are being counted on to provide care; it’s just “assumed” they will step up and take care of their parents. Some adult children may be in a position to assist; but such a lack of planning and communication may result in physical, financial and/or emotional stress for adult children – particularly when this responsibility is unexpectedly thrust upon them.
Another reason to plan in advance is to protect the adult children from feelings of guilt as plans for parent’s care are implemented. As an elder person declines in health, whether mentally or physically, it is common for that person to lose their sense of logic—commonly wanting to “go home”, even when that is no longer possible. When plans are laid out in advance that maps out the wishes of the parent, the adult children may be spared from agonizing whether they are making good decisions for their parents—because mom and dad participated in or fully planned out their future while still fully capable of making sound decisions.
However, remind your clients that not all plans play out until the end as intended. Parents should consider that they may not remain of sound mind, and should provide their adult children with a potential back-up plan. In addition to planning in advance, the greatest gift parents can give adult children is permission the veer from the plan if needed, when parents are no longer able to make sound decisions. This permission can help the adult child get through difficult emotional times when hard decisions must be made—knowing their parents instructed them to do what is needed to provide their parents the most appropriate care.
The holidays can be a good opportunity for addressing the need to plan for parent’s long-term care and elder care needs. With advanced planning and the choice of a holiday that best fits your client’s family’s dynamic, a successful start to a plan can be had. And other family members may be relieved that someone else took the first step to facilitate this important conversation.
Let your clients know what a great opportunity the holidays can provide in having a LTC conversation with family—whether with their parents or adult children. For more information on the long-term care discussion, you can read our white paper here.
Nationwide Long-term Care Study – The Harris Poll – Nov. 4, 2021
Taking Care of Caregivers” – Drs. Elise Herman and Rashmi Parmar, Psychiatric Times – Feb.7, 2022
This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice.
Nationwide and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. An attorney or tax advisor should be consulted for answers to specific questions.