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Life expectancy and health trends are constantly evolving. Recent data from the Alzheimer’s Association validate why financial planning is more important than ever. Keep reading to learn how health trends and long-term planning needs go hand in hand.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, while those from heart disease decreased. Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Progression is slow and can be uncertain. People age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, though some live as long as 20 years.
Preparing for long-term care is an important part of your financial planning process. After diagnosis of a serious illness, your options become more limited.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia take a devastating toll – not just on those with the disease, but on entire families. Research shows that millions of care contributors make enormous personal financial sacrifices every day, including cutting back on important necessities for themselves and their families.
About 80 percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family, friends, or other unpaid caregivers. About 25 percent of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers, meaning they care for both an aging parent and at least one child.
Many people have misconceptions about what expenses Medicare and Medicaid cover, leaving them unprepared to handle the tremendous costs associated with the disease. An Alzheimer’s Association survey found 13 percent sold personal belongings, such as a car, to help pay for costs related to dementia. Nearly half tapped into savings or retirement funds, and 11 percent cut back on spending for their children’s education.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are a variety planning options that can help preserve your income and investments, while ensuring you and your loved ones will not have to sacrifice quality care or basic life necessities in the event of a long-term illness. Your advisor can help you explore and understand those options, and develop a plan that fits your needs.
Living with Alzheimer’s
♦ An estimated 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; two-thirds are women.
♦ African-Americans are about two times more likely to have Alzheimer’s than Whites; Hispanics are one and one-half times more likely.
♦ People living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have more skilled nursing facility stays, more home health care visits, and twice as many hospital stays per year as other older people.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
War between Russia and Ukraine, climbing gas prices, and inflation at a 40-year high: It’s understandable that investors might be edgy these days. Yet, it’s important to recognize long-term investing fundamentals have not changed.
Some may be surprised to learn that historically stocks have been remarkably resilient, even in times of war. Mark Armbruster of the CFA Institute points out the average return for large-cap U.S. stocks during World War II and the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf wars was 11.4 percent. Current stock market performance has been on par with historical norms.
The Swiss Finance Institute looked at the period from 1926 to 2013 and found stock markets tend to fall in the “pre-war phase,” as forces are massed and tensions rise. Then stocks tend to rise when war breaks out. They call this phenomenon “the war puzzle” because there is no clear explanation for it.
Recently, the U.S. S&P 500 fell significantly in the weeks running up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A month later, stocks had recovered a good portion of the drop.
Once again, we see the basics of good investment management remain valid over time. Investing fundamentals have not changed despite the headlines.
- Work with a trusted advisor and develop a written long-term investment plan aligned with your tolerance for risk.
- Stick with that plan, unless your circumstances profoundly change.
- Stay diversified and stay invested, even when things feel daunting.
I’ve been a big fan of Carl Richards, the New York Times Sketch Guy and financial planner, since I stumbled upon his work in 2009. His illustrations and insights are both simple and impactful when it comes to investment and planning concepts. A great example is the Behavior Gap.
Financial research firm DALBAR produces the Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) report annual; it has been the nation’s leading study on investor behavior for 27 years and has shown a consistent and regular outcome regarding stock market returns and average equity fund investor returns. Though the numbers may vary from one year to the next, the clear and critical message holds true – investment returns are consistently greater than investor returns. This difference is what Carl Richards has termed the Behavior Gap and shows clearly in the sketch below.
Why does the gap exist?
The typical stock market investor, unfortunately, buys high when things are going well and sells low when the markets drop. This behavior causes the gap in long-term returns.
Another one of Richards’ sketches (below) illustrates the unfavorable pattern that causes the Behavior Gap. It depicts what happens when we allow emotions, such as greed and fear, to take over the decision-making process for our portfolio. This pattern leads to the type of underperformance that many average investors experience.
As the sketch suggests, making rational decisions about our investments is not automatic for most people, especially in volatile markets. It takes a certain mindset or temperament, along with a well thought out investment plan to avoid this situation.