The air is changing in Washington. The sticky summer heat that engulfs you the second you step outside in the morning has now been replaced with the crisp, bright air of fall. And we know what that means — with the season’s transition, the school buses are back on the roads, children are settling into their classrooms, and the excitement for a year full of learning adventures has begun for these young students!

It’s times like this that I often think about my four grandchildren and how much love they have brought into my life. As any grandparent would tell you, it’s a privilege to have this title. As such, I was honored to recently learn that not only is September back-to-school month, but it’s also the month that is set aside to recognize all grandparents!

But how can we ensure that all are grandparents — and all older Americans—are being properly cared for? Having spent the better part of my 40-year career as a regulator and consumer advocate, I have long worried about whether they will achieve security, peace of mind, and dignity in retirement. Have they researched their Social Security benefits and thought about the best time to access them? Have they thought about how health care costs will impact their financial wellness?

To truly honor our grandparents, there is so much we as financial professionals can offer them in terms of helping them prepare for their later years. And fortunately there is a wealth of resources available to help ensure that are loved ones are taken care of.

  • IRI’s consumer website, RetireOnYourTerms.org, has resources for successful retirement planning that can help answer many questions related to Social Security and health care. The site is easy to navigate and has sections devoted to the issues of older consumers.
  • Roughly 70 percent of those at age 65 will need at least some long-term care. The cost of long-term care can be incredibly expensive, especially if the retiree and his or her family are unprepared. Last year we offered a new presentation for financial professionals on these long-term care issues. The presentation is designed to help advisors work with clients to find the right coverage option to meet their long-term care needs.
  • Understanding federal government programs such as Medicare can go a long way in preparing for financial health in retirement. IRI recently provided a webinar on health care in retirement, and how health-related expenses will impact retirement security and the overall financial planning process. The presentation provided a detailed review of Medicare and various strategies to consider for your clients.
  • Sadly, all too many of our older loves will suffer from Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. And many also will be targeted by unscrupulous individuals who will try to take advantage of them. As such, it’s necessary to put safeguards in place to protect against these risks. It’s not easy to have conversations about many of these issues, but to help in the process, IRI had developed a resource center dedicated toward Protecting Older Investors. The center offers the latest information, tools and resources regarding diminished capacity detection and financial elder abuse prevention.

 

During this month, spend some time exploring these resources and be sure to make sure both your clients and loved one’s needs are being addressed. In his Presidential Proclamation recognizing our nation’s grandparents, President Obama said its, “our responsibility to ensure they can retire as they deserve — with security and dignity.” I, too, wish this for grandparents near and far, and hope that the work IRI has done and continues to do will have a significant influence on your ability to help and honor our loved ones.