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Advisor support for an aging population

Helping your clients and their families navigate the needs of the elderly.

Whether it’s through business connections or referrals, over time many advisors will see a client list transform to support small business owners, legal professionals, dentists, teachers or any number of other professions. Finding your foothold in a sector that appeals to your interests and values is a positive step towards building a successful career as an advisor. And, as your clients move through various stages of life, you may find that another clientele area develops ‒ elder care.  

It's estimated that within the next 20 years, one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65.1 With many people living into their 80’s and beyond, elder planning becomes increasingly important. As clients age through retirement, they may require additional support to navigate the increasingly complicated world of medical and housing supports. You can become an important resource not only for your clients, but the children of these elderly parents who may find themselves caught in the tricky situation of looking after their own families while supporting their mom and dad.  

Let’s consider the ways that an advisor can extend the retirement planning process to ensure that clients and their families are equipped to handle the needs that can arise with the very elderly.  

Advanced age

Building a retirement nest egg that’s big enough to allow for the eventual winding down of a career and more leisurely pursuits, such as travel, hobbies and more family time, is a common goal. But retirees who go on to become quite elderly may require more advanced planning with respect to the following:

  • Assisted living support
  • Downsizing out of the family home
  • Transitioning to a senior care facility

Helping clients plan for the possibility of reaching an advanced age can mean support for the entire family unit. Mobility issues, illness and other age-related issues may impair a person’s ability to cook, climb stairs, shop for groceries, drive to medical appointments and a variety of other daily activities. Some parents may struggle to look after themselves, get around safely and keep up with the demands of the family home. This can leave adult children in the uncomfortable position of trying to determine how best to approach mom and dad about making some essential changes, without appearing to be overbearing. The guidance of an advisor who has been working with the family for years can help create a plan for this eventuality long before a situation develops. The plan can be organized to occur in gradual shifts. For instance, if a parent isn’t ready to downsize their living space quite yet, establishing a budget for lawncare, housekeeping and meal prep can offer enough support without placing any extra burdens on children who may be busy with their own career and family obligations.  

In advance of anticipated needs, consider having conversations with the client that cover the prospect of how they might choose to live once the family home is no longer a practical solution. Ask about their preferences for senior living and what may be a realistic option with consideration to their retirement income and savings. Planning in advance can help clients and their families avoid difficult decisions and situations that can arise when elderly parents feel they are losing control of how they prefer to live.  

How an advisor can help:

  • Offer advice in the best interest of the client
  • Create a transition plan
  • Determine a budget
  • Review power of attorney details  

Extended healthcare

Stepping into retirement can be an exciting time for clients as they begin to explore the freedom that comes with winding down a long lifetime of working. However, stepping away from a job may also mean the end of belonging to a workplace wellness insurance plan. While there are some government programs that offer assistance with drug and dental coverage, decreased access to wellness supports can increase the challenge of staying healthy into old age.  

Extended health benefits can help with:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Digital care
  • Paramedical services
  • Mental health support
  • Dental care

Under the Manulife FollowMe™ program, clients have a range of options that can contribute to a healthy life in retirement, including manageable access to prescription drugs, mobility therapy, such as physiotherapy, therapeutic massage, osteopathy, chiropractic treatments and naturopathy, along with vision care, dental services, virtual wellness services, hospital accommodations and mental health supports.

Fraud awareness

From online phishing emails to aggressive door to door sales tactics, seniors are a vulnerable target for an increasingly sophisticated barrage of scams that attempt to rob retirement nest eggs. As an advisor, you have an opportunity to support aging clients and hopefully help to protect them from being victimized by criminal scams. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre features an updated and growing list here.

Graphic depicting behavioural changes.

End of life

As part of the estate planning process, important matters including powers of attorney, wills and identifying beneficiaries for investments and insurance purposes may be all sorted out with your client. But what about funeral planning? This can be a tough subject for many families and there’s an opportunity here as a trusted advisor to help iron out some of the details of this important end of life custom.  

Supporting a client with pre-planning their funeral offers them the opportunity to communicate what they want within a budget they can afford. There are numerous options to consider, and this checklist can help.  

A major aspect of funeral planning is budgeting for the cost. The client may wish to pre-pay as part of the planning process or have life insurance or investments earmarked to cover expenses.  

Helping your client organize the important documents for the family, including a copy of the will, insurance policies, investment statements, the funeral plan, digital assets and passwords beforehand will be appreciated by the estate executor when the time comes. This article on estate planning offers useful advice.  

Transitioning to old age comes with many challenges related to finances, health, safety and security. The special relationship that develops between an advisor and client over the years is an opportunity to plan and navigate this final stage of life with the proper dignity, support and respect.  

Consider sharing this additional senior and elderly-care material with your clients:

1 Aging in Canada: Are we ready for a growing senior population? | CTV News

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