Rosalyn Carter eloquently stated:

“There are only 4 types of people: those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who receive care, and those who will be caregivers in the future!

  • How many children are really prepared for that phone call from one of their parents or loved ones that will turn their lives upside down?
  • If you are the parent, are you prepared and have you talked with your children about your wishes if something should happen to you and you need assistance?

The secret is to be prepared so when a triggering event should happen, you will feel confident for making decisions and everyone involved will understand what’s expected.

My story:

For the last 30 years, I have helped clients plan for their “golden years”, including how they will address the issues of aging and remaining independent.

I also have experienced it personally as the Designated Daughter with my own parents.

I was 47 when I received that “call in the night”. My mother called and said, “Dale’s in the hospital. He cracked his head open when he fell at the health club. The doctors say he has lung cancer.”

How could this have happened? My step-father was doing so great. He had been taking care of my mom who not only had early stages of Dementia, but had just totaled the new Cadillac he had purchased for her. Apparently, mom had a petite mall seizure while driving and now her driving privileges were gone.

I thought, Dad had beat cancer 40 years ago, so of course he could do it again. But he was now 86. My heart was racing as I realized my whole world would now be turned upside down.

I thought I knew what was ahead of me. I had planned for this 12 years ago when they were first married; my step father was 74 at the time and my mom 58.

Since I was a financial planner, they had agreed to do a financial plan with me. Dad had wanted to put everything in joint ownership which could have disinherited his children who were almost my mother’s age. I suggested there was a better way.

So we set up the wills, long term care policies, consolidated the investments and even created a special trust to provide income to my mother while she was alive, and go to his children after her death. I had it under control. I was the professional — the expert, right?

During the next 12 months, I would be pushed to the limit emotionally, physically and spiritually. My health became strained as I focused on being a caregiver to both my mother and my step father.

Since I was the financial planner too, it was my chance to experience and test everything I had ever been taught first hand. What I learned and experienced has changed my life forever and that is why I do this work I do today.

Because my parents and I had “the important conversations” and put the proper financial and estate planning in place, I was able to:

  • pay their bills
  • file their tax returns
  • access medical records
  • talk to doctors and advocate on their behalf
  • manage investments and access income for them
  • and transact real estate, like selling his home so they could move to independent living when he left the hospital and rehab

We never had to go to court for guardianship. There was no probate at my step-father’s death, and most importantly, we were able to focus on their quality of life and quality of care during their end of life transition.

Before my step father died, he was in Hospice and he whispered his last words to me: “You are my miracle worker”. I’ll never forget it.

Part of creating the life of your dreams is making sure you address all the “what ifs” as early as possible.

Portrait of an elder mother and daughter walking outdoors

According to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors:

  • When Social Security was designed, life expectancy was 63.
  • Today, our fastest growing population is age 85 plus and 50% may have some form of Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
  • By 2030, 70 million people in the US, or 1-in-5 people, will be age 65
  • and another 1 million people will be 100 years or older.

Take these steps today:

  • Prepare now and get organized
  • Have the important conversation with your parents or loved ones
  • Learn what you need to do to make sure your lives continue to run smoothly
  • Avoid costly mistakes

Remember, even though it’s better to start early, it’s never too late to plan. Download my free report to start your planning now: “A Caregiver’s Manual for Being Prepared for that Call in the Night or schedule time to talk with me at


Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Retirement Coach, founder of the Smart Women Companies, and the host Smart Women Talk Radio with over a million subscribers.  For over 30 years, Katana has shown women how to take charge of their life and finances and believes it’s never too early to plan for expected and unexpected events like retirement, encore careers, moving abroad, or preparing for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Business Women, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new ebook, The Five Biggest Money Mistakes Women Make and How to Fix Them, visit