Tips for Starting the Long-Term Care Discussion With Clients

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What You Need to Know

Do your clients understand their odds of needing care?
Do they know what long-term care costs?
Have you talked to them about what Medicare and Medicaid can, and cannot, cover?

It’s November, which means the arrival of Long-Term Care Awareness Month.

Each year, this month presents an excellent opportunity for financial professionals to have meaningful conversations with clients about long-term care (LTC) and the importance of planning ahead for such expenses in retirement.

Long-term care is a general term for a wide range of services that a person may need if they’re chronically ill, making them unable to independently perform at least two of the six activities of daily living: bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring (for example, getting in and out of a chair or bed).

Developing a severe cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can also lead to someone needing long-term care.

This can be a sensitive topic for some clients.

However, long-term care planning is an important part of a well-rounded financial plan for retirement.

According to a January 2021 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 56% of the U.S. population turning 65 today is expected to require long-term care.

The report also notes that, for those turning 65 today, the average projected length of an LTC event is 2.8 years and the average lifetime cost of LTC is $298,000.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that a person’s cost of care will be determined by the specific services they will need.

It’s also worth noting that costs and inflation rates can vary by region.

Financial professionals can play a key role in helping clients prepare for the potential costs of long-term care.

By discussing options and tailoring a plan to meet their unique needs, financial professionals can position clients to better safeguard their retirement savings, creating more peace of mind for them and their loved ones.

Further, in opening a dialogue, financial professionals can help clients consider an event that many may find unpleasant and, therefore, avoid planning for.

The following are some ways that financial professionals can initiate a productive discussion with clients about long-term care.

With financial professionals’ expertise, clients can take important steps to help protect the retirement lifestyle they worked so hard to build.

How Does the Client Envision Retirement?

One way to broach the subject of long-term care is to ask clients what they envision their retirement years to be like.

Once clients share their goals for retirement, an opportunity is created to discuss how those plans could be impacted by the need for long-term care services.

Financial professionals can also ask clients where they would like to reside in their retirement years.

For example, are they planning to remain at home?

If so, what would happen if they experienced an LTC event?

Clients who plan for LTC costs will be better prepared for a long-term care event that might otherwise derail their retirement dreams.

Who Would Provide Care?

Many people are familiar with how challenging it can be to provide a loved one experiencing a long-term care event with the care they need.