Young at Heart
Last month we celebrated the day of my 40th anniversary with West Financial! How did that happen? To be honest, it hardly seems like it's been 40 years – and that is a gift. As I have aged, the clients have aged with me. We now have 95 clients aged 85 and older.
The oldest client I have worked with was 104, and was she a character! She always walked into the office on her own, telling jokes and stories. A few of the quips I had heard more than once, but who's counting. She was an inspiration for sure – a long life, well lived, reasonably healthy and happy. She may have been the oldest, but there are clients in their hundreds walking in right behind in her footsteps.
Over the years, and as our relationships evolved, I have noticed how the conversations have changed. The questions on how am I doing, what's up with the market, and what do I think about Social Security all remain. But the added years bring a different perspective to the conversation, sometimes fun, sometimes understanding, and sometimes fearful. The conversations are often broad ranging to include politics, global issues, health, and generational differences – often followed by, "Have you read any good books lately?"
The Society of Actuaries published a study on Retirement Experiences of People Age 85 and Over, which noted that people are living longer than previous generations, leading to concerns over how these older Americans will prosper as they age. Fortunately, the study found that older Americans were "flexible and resilient" and that for the aging, it was "easier to adapt to financial constraints than to physical limitations." They often need help with money management, but also driving, taking medication, scheduling appointments, and other household functions.
The financial assistance needed can be very broad. This includes the financial management that we provide, and also bill pay assistance (e.g., setting up service payments with the client's provided authorizations and instructions), fraud protection, monitoring their gifting, and from time to time, help with family interactions. We can help clients in many of these areas. Yet sometimes the need requires a higher level of support. Getting that support is not always easy. Options may include family, friends, churches, community groups, and sometimes the engagement of fee-based services. In every case, it is important to make certain that their legal documents are up to date and signed.
If interested, the study also provides Tips for Retirees and Their Advisors, Tips for Individuals Who are Helping Seniors, and Tips for Service Organizations and Employee Benefit Sponsors. If you would like a copy, it is available at: www.soa.org/research/topics/aging-ret-topic-landing/.
I have learned a lot from our clients about aging and maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle. Clients are so different and the Washington area is full of highly educated, thoughtful, and successful individuals. But life is truly a balancing act, and families, social networks, and professional networks have been disrupted and changed with the pandemic. Aging is complicated and we only go through it once.
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