Navigation in long-term care, for agents

What do you want to know

  • Help clients go beyond LTC planning as nursing home planning.
  • Talk about the types of services that can keep people home longer.
  • Inform clients and their loved ones of the nature of the plan.

The pandemic has created a host of new perspectives on long-term care that bring new challenges and opportunities. While this certainly laid bare some of the problems with the senior care system, it also broadened the conversation around the vulnerability that comes with aging. Additionally, the landscape of senior care continues to change as new technologies emerge that provide us with new and increasingly flexible ways of care.

These trends can be overwhelming for many of our clients who are now, more than ever, looking for direction. This apprehension was confirmed by an internal Thrivent survey conducted in August 2021 of existing and potential policyholders who indicated they were looking for more guidance and more diverse tools to navigate the long-term care system.

So how will we best meet the unique needs of our customers as we navigate this new normal? While there is no explicit plan on how to do this for every client, there are three fundamental guidelines we can keep in mind as we begin to explore this territory.

1. Individual needs require individual planning.

There is a common perception that long term care is something that is only administered in nursing homes. The reality is that most care is provided at home by loved ones. This shift in understanding can be empowering for many families, but only if we are able to fully explain the costs and benefits of the options available. To do this, we must fully understand the interplay between the wants and needs of our customers.

For example, a client who wishes to stay at home and be cared for by their spouse or children will have different needs, such as access to a wider range of services, than someone who wishes to age at home but be taken care of by a professional. A person in the care of their family may find that they need to rely on services such as adult child care or various health monitoring technologies to help their family facilitate their care. The viability of the options ultimately used will be largely determined by the time and financial resources the family can spare.

In this way, it is important to carefully consider what each client wants their care plan to look like and how those desires ultimately influence their long-term care needs.

2. No plan survives first contact.

No matter how meticulously you make a plan, things can change. This is especially true when that plan is not intended to be rolled out until years after its creation. Lives, desires, and health needs can change without warning, which is why it’s important to understand that the best type of care plan is one that can adapt to the changing terrain of the senior care journey. Likewise, it is not only our customers that may change over time, but also the options available to them.

From Amazon to AirBnB, we’ve seen countless industries disrupted by the introduction of new technologies that have transformed the way we think about these industries and are forcing us to alter our relationship with them.

From smart walkers that keep families informed of a loved one’s activity levels, to emerging apps that improve a care recipient’s ability to maintain a high level of social interaction, knowledge of these types of developing resources is a key way for a financial advisor to continue to educate and bring value to their clients.

Delivering this kind of value means being at the forefront of how emerging technologies can impact conventional eldercare practices. This type of foresight can take the form of anything from researching the development of new technologies to tracking funding sources that provide clients with the flexibility to afford the care that is best for them.

3. Communication is key.

Often clients will create a detailed plan and even act on their plan which unfortunately is never shared with their family. This often leads to a situation where the family does not find out about the loved one’s plan until after their death and another plan of care has had to be adopted.

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