Most statistics calling out the number of people involved in caregiving are rapidly becoming outdated. The necessity of being a caregiver can have significant financial implications for professionals, workers and, particularly, business owners. Financial professionals can help clients who are caregivers navigate these challenges. And as professionals and business owners themselves, these are challenges that advisors also may face.
The pandemic blurred the boundaries between the personal and the professional and fundamentally changed the social contract that governs today’s workplace. After seeing too many truly disturbing media images and hearing heart-wrenching stories, many people decidedly would prefer to age in place.
Arranging for care at home requires skills beyond those we may have acquired in our current employment. It is estimated that 95% of community-dwelling seniors today rely on help from unpaid family or friends. Being an employed caregiver, employing caregivers or living with a caregiver is quickly becoming the norm instead of the exception. Many businesses now employ a workforce that spans three, and in some cases, four generations — from career extenders to baby boomers to Generation X to millennials — many of whom are already involved in caregiving.
Juggling work and providing or supervising someone’s care is more complicated than just hiring someone to help (good luck finding a qualified, trained person). There also are the issues of wills, end of life directives and other documents (which no one really wants to discuss).
Extended care and long-term care are expensive and can impact retirement savings. The time, energy and resources required to provide care can negatively impact a worker’s performance and can affect their own ability to retire comfortably.
Some 62% of caregivers who participated in an AgingCare.com survey say that the cost of caring for a parent has impacted their ability to plan for their own financial future. Family dynamics can add to stress and potential underperformance at work. Addressing the need and finding adequate and affordable options are challenging.
Solutions Are Available
In my recent book How Not To Tear Your Family Apart, I follow a fictitious family as they work to create a plan that will result in the main character, Jodi, finding options that will relieve her from the stressful juggling act of personal and professional responsibilities.
As a member of the sandwich generation, Jodi has passed up a promotion and backs off from working on group projects since her time is not always her own. She stopped contributing to her 401(k) and instead started diverting those funds to a separate account dedicated to the cost of her parents’ care. She spends her lunch hour running errands related to her parents’ care and often shows up late to work looking exhausted.
Fortunately, she is not the business owner, for if she were, the impact on the confidence of her employees and clients likely would suffer as well. This case study uses this fictional family who works with an advisor/agent to explore various insurance, non-insurance and government programs. The study provides an overview of options to address extended and long-term care needs that work for employers, employees and family caregivers. It also covers strategies for initiating and sustaining difficult conversations that are necessary for good preparation.
Caregivers, especially those with additional professional responsibilities, must be prepared for the potential impact of caregiving on their lives and finances. It’s important to understand what resources are available and to have a plan in place that includes the entire family. Understanding how caregiving can affect the whole family, not only those receiving care, is an important part of any financial plan.
Since the pandemic, retaining the best employees includes caring about the physical and financial health of business owners and workers. To avoid the likelihood of extended and long-term care needs negatively impacting your clients’ careers or businesses, they must become educated about options that work for them. Offering solid guidance and advice is crucial to growing your business and protecting theirs.