Market Commentary: Summer 2023 - Planning For Aging

Jul 17, 2023 Willow Creek Wealth Management Posted in Articles, In the News, Market Commentary

For most of us, our lives generally follow a predictable path. If we are lucky, we enjoy good health as we age, and those years can be truly wonderful. However, there may come a time when illness or injury disrupts this trajectory. While some may experience only a brief setback, others may endure the lingering effects for years. 

When these situations arise, spouses, family members, and healthcare professionals are often left scrambling to figure out the medical, financial, and personal resources required to ensure adequate care. Dealing with all of this can be overwhelming for everyone involved, making it difficult to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

The Unknown and the Inevitable

Beyond taking care of yourself physically and mentally, the best advice we can provide to mitigate the worst is to plan for the process of aging. Think through the areas that need to be addressed: Will you be able to age in your current home? What care options do you have and what can you afford? Who can and will provide various levels of care? More importantly perhaps, what are your goals for that care? What are your decisions around end-of-life care and at what point do you wish to be let go? 

These are difficult topics to be sure, and each of us has a different answer to them.  But by making these preparations, it can make a world of difference to you, your quality of life and provide peace of mind to those around you.

Formalizing Your Plan

The first thing to do is to make sure you have an up-to-date estate plan. This includes having the following cornerstone documents: a will, a revocable living trust, and powers of attorney for both financial and healthcare matters. These documents set out who will make decisions if you are incapacitated, who will handle your estate when you pass, and how the estate is to be divided. These should be drafted by a qualified estate planning attorney and make sure the individuals named in those documents know their roles and when those roles might be triggered.

Be Clear, Be Direct

Another key document is an Advance Health Care Directive. This sets out who will make key end-of-life decisions should you be incapacitated and what kind of care you might wish to receive. Do you want to be kept alive at all costs? Do you wish to be left to die in comfort if your functional quality of life is all but gone? One resource that can be used to help with Advance Health Care Directive Planning and is accepted in all 50 states is Prepare for Your Care (which can be found at Again, make sure you discuss all of this with those who will be participating in these final decisions, including key family members and your medical team. The more clarity there is in this area, the less likelihood there is for confusion or debate.   

The Importance of a Network

Another important consideration is to think about what kind of support network you have. Some people have large, extended families that live nearby and can help at a moment’s notice. Others have more limited options with no children, children who live far away, or a spouse that has health issues of their own to contend with. Either way, it is important to set up a network that works for you. This network should be reliable, trustworthy, and have the time and capacity in most situations to help as needed. Can these people help with things like arranging trips to see doctors, shopping for food, or even helping to manage technology and financial matters? Consider setting up an understanding with key professionals, such as CPAs, estate planning attorneys, and financial advisors regarding who will support you as you age. 

More specifically, for Solo Agers – those without immediate family who will support them – the key is to set up a network of trusted friends, advisors, and other resources. There are wonderful non-profits that promote social and community involvement for seniors – these vary by location but are well worth tapping into for those who do not have family or others to rely on.   

The Day-to-Day Considerations

Apart from these steps, plan for the realities of aging. Is your home suitable for you as your abilities diminish over time? How many stories is it? Is the bathroom easy to maneuver within? Is it geographically isolated, making it hard to shop or remain socially engaged? Do you have hobbies and passions that you can maintain over time? The more thought and effort you put into answering these questions now, the more likely you will be able to handle what comes.