The ability to plan for and determine what happens to you as you age isn’t just for seniors.
Young adults should also put consideration into creating a life care plan, said Rebecca Bar-Shain, partner and financial planner at Cedar Brook Financial in Mayfield Heights, and Orvell Johns, director of the Franklin County Office on Aging in Columbus.
“Taking a proactive approach to managing your wealth, health and other goals is always valuable,” Bar-Shain said. “Sometimes it can feel overwhelming so it’s helpful to start small and build skills. When you’re young, you may have fewer major issues to manage so you can ease your way into it. Also, young people can have big dreams and goals. Creating a life care plan can allow you to achieve more of your life goals. The wisdom I’ve heard rings true – you may not be able to handle everything at once, but you can try to enjoy many of your goals spread out over time.”
Johns said it is important to know health conditions are not always age-exclusive.
“Proactively identifying future medical and supportive needs by long-term illness or disability challenges while a young adult helps avoid crisis-oriented decisions,” he noted. “Although more common in older adults, disabling health issues aren’t limited to that age group.”
Both professionals said planning early can be helpful in case of emergencies, both in terms of the present and future.
“Life plans encourage one to understand the aging process and its effect on health, mobility, housing and financial resources,” Johns said. “Acknowledging this at an early age will assure that you can maintain the quality of life desired in later years.”
And it’s critical to note life care planning isn’t just about retirement and life after that, Bar-Shain explained.
“It is also a tool to help us navigate the unexpected stages of life, and as we all know, life is full of unpredictable circumstances,” she said. “Creating a life care plan doesn’t mean planning out exactly what will happen in your life, but rather it is about planning so you can pivot without incurring financial disasters when life hits you with the unexpected.”
Seeking guidance is key to creating a care plan that ages with you, the professionals said.
“Ideally, I’d recommend seeking out the advice of an experienced financial planner,” Bar-Shain said. “If you’re not ready for that step, then it is worth setting aside time to discuss these issues with a friend or family member whom you respect. As you progress over the years, you may recognize that you’re still at the stage where you can benefit from the services of a professional. It’s worth investing in and building your financial strength.”
Johns recommended engaging a life care planner since they’re certified in various areas like law, nursing, rehabilitation and other health-related fields.
“Ask for recommendations from trusted friends or family members,” he said. “Young people have the advantage of employer resources such as employer assistance programs which provide confidential referrals, many at no charge or a reduced fee, to management consultants experienced in a wide array of issues. Management consultants will gather information to assess their situation and then identify and provide resources and assist in developing an action plan.”
When young adults revisit these plans down the road, the professionals had advice on the best approaches.
“Life changes and so do life plans,” Johns explained. “Revisiting the life plan and making adjustments at different life-changing moments, like marriage, births and health changes, ensures the plan continues to address the original intent to maintain quality of life in later years.”
Bar-Shain added, “If none of those life events happen, I would recommend revisiting your plan every five years to consider whether your goals and circumstances have changed and how that might impact your financial decisions both in the present and the future.”