Aging Wisely

Aging WiselyThe good news is more Americans are living longer and healthier lives. There are medical breakthroughs and commitments to healthy lifestyles that have redefined the terms of “retirement”. However, this comes with many difficult decisions that face seniors, future seniors, or “sandwich generation” children helping aging parents as they choose how to best age wisely and gracefully. And many Baby Boomers and subsequent generations will need to approach these issues differently than their predecessors because of longer life spans, uncertainty about entitlement benefits and rising medical costs that impact these choices like never before.

Of course, there is no way to precisely predict what each individual’s mental and physical health might look like as time goes by. There are several factors in play to choose the best path: physical and emotional status of the senior, convenience, family participation and cost, for example. The trend has been to find a way to live independently. Many are choosing to stay in their home and have it retrofitted with safety or convenience items to make it more feasible to stay there. For instance: first floor bedrooms, special chairs, ramps, bath and bed handles or even voice-activated command items. There are many perks to this living-at-home arrangement. There is minimal impact on comfortable routines and the familiar surroundings can be uniquely suited to the individual. Family members can stay more in charge. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of senior care is provided by family and friends. Home care services can offer a supplement to the burdens of those nearest and dearest. There are many levels of home care to consider, depending on the condition and needs of the senior. Some may try using 100% family and friends to help or alternatively combine a regular care-giver with home care service that can provide homemaking, companionship, personal care, transportation or even specialized live-in or respite care to give the regular caregiver a break. Many resources for seniors or their caregivers are available to give support and advice. Overall, aging-in-place can be a more cost-effective and less disruptive choice. Check out AARP, Angie’s List, or other web resources for information.

Independent living can also be achieved in a more managed setting. There are many senior communities that have private senior homes, apartments or rooms, but that share other parts of life with the community. This can mean participating in meal plans, transportation and recreational activities. There are many benefits with this choice in terms of safety and socialization, while maintaining some independence. There may be on-site medical care or easy access and transportation to medical facilities and appointments. Socializing, dining and interacting with others in your age group is known to combat depression and benefit digestion and general well-being. There may be help with personal or home maintenance tasks. This solution can be a reassuring transition for seniors and their families and not as burdensome on individual caregivers.

Finally, there is the assisted living or nursing home option. This solution can be for long-term care or for a finite recuperative scenario. Assisted living facilities can provide varying degrees of care, but usually there is basic on-site medical care or physical therapy, assistance with personal daily activities like bathing and dressing, preparation and service of meals and the ability to stay in a safe and controlled environment. This situation generally also provides much-needed socialization and recreational activities for the seniors. About 60-70% of people over 65 will need some type of long-term assistance during retirement. These types of facilities can average $200 per day or more and sometimes up to $100,000 a year, which can be daunting for those that are unprepared.

Funding for long-term care is typically done using one or a combination of the following:

  1. Self-funding using your personal investment resources.
  2. Purchasing a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy that typically provides a daily benefit (after a 90 day “elimination” period) for home care or a facility, subject to limits on number of years and total dollars paid.
  3. Opting for a reverse mortgage. More people are using their home to stay at home. The FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program has recently undergone major changes by lowering fees and providing more flexibility in their use.

Decisions on how best to age wisely and gracefully are among the most important and difficult an individual or family will make. At DWM, we help you evaluate your future residential needs or long-term care options as you age. Planning for your future will ease the burden for you and your loved-ones and allow you to truly get the most you can from your Golden Years! Give us a call, we are happy to help.

Mind-blowing Technologies Expected in 20 Years

AI handKeeping up with all the change in the world is not easy. Futurist George Dvorsky wrote a very interesting article this month in which he outlined 10 futuristic technologies that he believes will appear by the 2030s. These include artificial intelligent personal assistants, anti-aging intervention, megascale geoengineering to combat climate change, personal fabricators and industrial scale desalination. They blew my mind. Here’s why:

AI personal assistants. Many of us have used SIRI on our Apple iphone. It responds to specific language cues and can access the internet. According to Mr. Dvorsky, that’s nothing compared to what will be available twenty years from now. Our personal assistants will be available 24/7 and exhibit an uncanny level of general intelligence. They will know everything about us and be our virtual clones. They’ll write emails for us, book appointments, perform menial tasks and even anticipate our needs.

Computers Everywhere. Computers are getting smaller and will be everywhere, but for the most part, completely invisible-absorbed into our surroundings. They will be in our clothes, our fashion accessories and even our contact lenses. And, these devices will have a certain amount of “ambient intelligence” to help them perform autonomously under specific conditions. Mr. Dvorsky believes that in the 2030s, we will be completely surrounded by computers, but unaware of their presence.

Anti-Aging Intervention. There is nothing available today to slow down or reverse the effects of aging. But, there may be in 20 years. Futurists and gerontologists are not sure what form this intervention will take. It may be a genetic tweak. Today, there are studies being conducted to map the genetic constitutions of supercentenarians to isolate the factors that extend their lives. It might involve therapy on our telomeres, which are like plastic tips on shoelaces because they prevent chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to one another. Or, says Mr.Dvorsky, it could be an initiative to replenish our mitochondria, the cell’s power producers. Perhaps I should start thinking about inviting folks to my 120th birthday party. Could be a wild event.

Megascale Geoengineering Project. Historically low levels of sea ice, rampant wildfires, superstorms, and record breaking are hard to ignore. The climate is changing. Already some scientists are working on a geoengineering solution to reverse the effects of rampant carbon emissions. Their solution is cloud whitening- the seeding of marine stratocumulus clouds with a generous supply of tiny sea water particles. Other techniques include artificial trees, enhanced weathering, ocean fertilization and alkalinity enhancement.

Personal Fabricators at Home. Most everyone knows that Jay Leno owns lots of antique cars and motorcycles. But, did you know that he uses 3D printing to produce parts to repair them? With 3D printing, you download specs, or scan a part and produce the finished product at home. 3D printing can be used for day-to-day items and electronics, vaccines, self-assembling robots and more. As more blueprints are available online, 3D printing will likely be quite disruptive to traditional manufacturing.

The Oceans Will Quench the World’s Thirst. Mr. Dvorsky suggests that industrial-scale desalination is expected by the 2030s. Using advancements in solar power, we will be able to build massive concentrated solar power plants that utilize the residual heat to strip ocean water of its salt. Experts predict that growing freshwater deficits could be increasingly covered sometime in the next 10-20 years. These desalination plants could produce most of the safe drinking water by the year 2030 and afterwards.

Yes, change is everywhere. At DWM, we embrace change. We are committed to understanding the new economy, the ever-changing investment options and all the other tools available to give every client better information and better choices to protect and enhance their legacies.