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5 Tips for Advising Female Clients of the Sandwich Generation

It is estimated that by the year 2020, women are going to control 67 percent of U.S. wealth, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. And we know that currently the majority of primary caregivers for children and elderly parents are women.

Chances are in the next few years, you’re going to see more female clients who are working full time, taking care of their children, and taking care of their older, and possibly ailing, parents.

The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP estimate that 66 percent of caregivers for elderly parents are female. The 2011 MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers (the most recent MetLife study available) estimates the total cost of lost wages, pension benefits and Social Security benefits for the average female caregiver is $324,044.

Dennis Stearns, CFP®, ChFC®, founder of Stearns Financial Group, said in the March 2017 Journal 10 questions interview that women in the sandwich generation need both financial and life planning from their advisers. Because not only is the financial toll great for these female caregivers, so is the toll on their health. The American Journal of Public Health reported that women who cared for parents were two times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as those who are not caregivers. According to Stearns, the best thing to do is to plan early before the sandwich caregiving crisis hits.

If your clients haven’t planned, here are some things you can do to help them:

1) Advise them to not do anything drastic. Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®, wrote on Kiplinger.com that the best financial advice to sandwich caregivers is to not do anything drastic, like quit their jobs.

2) Encourage them not to accumulate any new debt. Go over their budget and help them figure out where they can trim expenses. Help them find and apply for services their parents may qualify for to help offset expenses.

3) Refer them to other professionals. Many other professionals can help, including counselors, tutors, or in-home health aides. Ensure any professionals you refer are thoroughly vetted.

4) Encourage them to find time to care for themselves. Mark Struthers, CFA, CFP®, wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that clients need to take time to recharge their batteries.

5) Have them enlist the help of other family members. Cheng suggested on Kiplinger.com that asking for help from siblings can help alleviate stress. “Being smart and financially sound will help decrease stress and allow families to enjoy time together,” she wrote.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org

 


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3 Tips to Incorporate Health Into the Financial Planning Discussion

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Carolyn McClanahan presenting at FPA BE Baltimore 2016

When a client who Carolyn McClanahan thought was 70 walked into her office, the woman told her she hadn’t been to a doctor in decades.

“Why are you coming in to see me now,” McClanahan, MD, CFP® asked.

The woman, who was actually 98, wanted to participate in her weekly tradition of acting out a play with her friends and needed a doctor to cut a thick toenail so she could fit in her fancy shoes.

When it comes to clients’ health, it runs the gamut from people like the 98-year-old recreational actress to chain-smoking overweight clients to vegan yoga practitioners. McClanahan said it is a good idea to incorporate discussing health into your practice to help your clients save money on insurance rates and overall health care spending.

“People are more comfortable talking about their health than they are about their money,” McClanahan said.

Regardless if your client has health issues, start with Livingto100.com, which helps project people’s longevity so you can do better planning.

McClanahan says incorporating health care into the discussion has three components: getting a health history, finding out what your clients’ health care mindset is and discussing advance directive planning. McClanahan offers the following tips to apply to discussing health with your clients:

The health history: start with open-ended questions. To get a better sense of your client’s health history, ask them an open-ended question. A good one is, “Tell me what you do to take care of your health.”

With that question, McClanahan said, people will tell you all you need to know. If your clients are overweight or they smoke, you can encourage them to get a little healthier before they start shopping for insurance and taking physicals. The cost-savings of doing so are “astronomical,” she said.

A basic health history includes the client’s body mass index, height, weight, smoking status, their exercise habits, whether they use drugs or alcohol, what medical problems they may have and their family history.

The health care mindset: figure out their attitude. Do they go to the doctor for everything? Do they go to the doctor only if they’re really sick? Figure these things out then figure out what it their projected cost of care will be over time based on these habits. Also encourage healthy clients to keep working.

Encourage all your clients, no matter their age, to have advanced directives. Simply having an advance directive can save your clients money. Have them map out their medical decisions now that they are healthy and ensure they have been shared with family members and health care professionals.

To see the slides from McClanahan’s FPA BE 2016 presentation, click here.

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Ana Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.