Watching our parents age is not always easy. We all dread the idea of that “call in the night” – the one that means we must step into the Designated Caregiver™ role to manage our parents’ lives and make tough decisions about their care, finances, and welfare.

According to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors:

  • When Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid were designed, life expectancy was 63.
  • Our fastest growing population is age 85 and 50% of this population may have some form of Alzheimer’s.
  • By 2030, 70 million people in the US, or 1-in-5 people, will be age 65.

For the last three decades, I have helped clients create financial plans for their “golden years” and address issues of aging and remaining independent. Learn how to be prepared, how to have this discussion with your parents, what you and they should do to ensure your lives continue to run smoothly, and how to avoid costly mistakes.

My Designated Caregiver™ five-step-process enables you to make smart choices now that can benefit everyone involved in the future.

Step 1 – Get Organized

Before attempting to discuss financial, tax, and estate planning issues with your loved ones, be sure to sit down with a financial advisor and get your own plan in order.

Step 2 – Initiate “The Discovery Conversation” with Your Parents

One way to initiate this conversation is to ask them what they would do if something happened to you.

  • Do they know the names and contact information of your advisors?
  • Are they able to access your medical records, doctors and prescriptions?
  • Do they know where to find documents such as your will, or medical forms?

These questions may help lead the conversation into what your role would be for them – will you be needed as a caregiver, a trustee, or a personal representative? Knowing this information will help you plan your own future. The worse time to start dealing with these issues is after a triggering event when options may be limited, or you may end up in court to ask for permission to make medical, legal, and financial decisions.

Step 3 – Start Planning as Early as Possible

Don’t wait until the triggering event happens. It’s never too early to start planning for the unexpected. Meeting with an attorney, financial planner, and an insurance agent to create the proper planning may be all it takes to make sure your needs and the needs of your loved ones are met. Plan early while you have the most options available – be proactive rather than reactive.

Step 4 – Consider Purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance

Start the conversation about long-term care insurance when your parents or loved ones are young and healthy. In fact, consider purchasing your own policy now while the premiums are affordable!

Long-term care insurance costs have gone up, so explore new innovative long-term care solutions through products like life insurance where there are dual benefits. Also explore homecare-only policies which may be less expensive.

We are living much longer, and the need for healthcare and health-related services is exploding. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that 44% of men and 58% of women will specifically need nursing home care at or after age 65. The annual Cost of Care Survey from Genworth puts the median annual costs in the United States for an assisted living facility at $43,200 and $91,250 for a private nursing home room.

Step 5 – Create a Team of Trusted Advisors

This is not the time for-do-it-yourself-planning. Find a key advisor who is an eldercare expert and have them manage the team with you based on your loved ones’ goals, values, and objectives. The final product should enable your loved ones to maintain their dignity, lifestyle, and assets. It should also meet the needs of the caregiver. The result is that everyone involved should be able to sleep better at night knowing that all concerns have been addressed and that a team and a plan are in place to meet the unexpected.


If you are currently a caregiver or better yet, want to learn how to plan for care – either as a care giver or care receiver, and want to talk with me about your situation, then feel free to book a complementary 30 minute discovery session with me at


Katana Abbott, CFP® practitioner, is a Life and Legacy Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart Women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books.

She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business.  She founded Smart Women’s Empowerment in 2008 to bring free financial empowerment resources and programs to women around the world through her team of Contributing Experts.