In December 2017, I was honored to be a guest at a professional training and conference session in Charlotte, N.C. In the past few years, I have been to many conferences. I enjoy and appreciate being a part of conferences like this for many reasons, including networking with advisors around the country, learning about new material in the industry, and getting my company’s brand recognized.
There is a learning experience that comes out of every session. In Charlotte, the message I received was unintended and came from the situation in front of the audience.
On the first day of the conference, we were discussing the topic of life insurance. There were five leaders on the panel who were heading the conversation, consisting of four men and one woman. They were talking about the use of life insurance for families. Each example started with how the men of the household, the husband and/or father, would be the decision makers in regard to financial matters, including life insurance.
The reality is, the wife and/or mother equally need the security and advantages that life insurance and many other financial planning strategies provide. It would have been beneficial to see a group comprised of an equal number of men and women on the panel.
It is difficult for a man to understand the pressures and challenges women face. The truth is, the financial services and planning industry is dominated by men. They have been doing a great job, but the world is changing and so are the clients’ preferences and needs.
So often the woman’s perspective is left out or minimized by the male figure doing the financial planning. My years of experience in the industry taught me that it is a product of the male-dominated culture. That is why I believe so strongly that a woman’s voice and woman’s perspective is such an important and necessary part of the conversation.
We have a saying at my company: The good news is people are living longer; the bad news is people are living longer. This is true for both men and women. We are living longer and the responsibilities list gets longer as time goes on. Social worker Dorothy Miller came up with the term sandwich effect, which explains the generation that is caring for their aging parents while still caring for their children as well. This generation faces stress, financial burden, and career burnout.
I have a personal experience with this. While my daughter was in high school, my husband and I had to place my mother-in-law in a nursing home due to failing health. I had to take time off work to figure out which nursing home was best for her. Even though my husband was involved, he did not feel the need to take time off work and view different options. My focus was my mother-in-law’s comfort. My husband’s focus was what financially worked for our family.
Men and women typically differ in opinions in regard to caregiving. As a VP of Client Experience, I understand that family dynamics are different for everyone, so we like to offer financial services to the male, but also to the woman of the household to sort out the differences and come to a mutual agreement.
There will be many challenges to face being the caregiver vs. the care manager. A study by Ohio State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging has shown that adult children caring for their parents may have their life span shortened by four to eight years (Bursack, 2014). It is crucial to stay healthy while still being caregiver, physically and mentally.
There are many local and national support groups for caregivers to join. Some examples are: Working Daughter, Caregivers Connect, Caring for Elderly Parents, and Sandwich Generation. Being a caregiver takes up a majority of your free time, especially if you work. When my mother-in-law was in the nursing home, I chose to visit her at least three days a week and on the weekends. My husband chose to visit once a week, because it was a sad situation to watch. It was a tough schedule adjustment, especially with my daughter being a part of competitive sports teams.
The financial burden on a caregiver can be overwhelming if they do not have a trusted advisor to speak with frequently. A caregiver may face retirement roadblocks by putting their career on hold while caring for their family member. A caregiver also has a number of fiduciary responsibilities, including property management, medical decisions, and insurance.
We all want our families to care FOR us, not to TAKE care of us!
Lisa Odoski is Vice President of the Fried Group, the parent company of TFG Wealth Management. She is dedicated to helping women protect and preserve their lifestyle by developing life plans that promote physical, emotional and financial well being. She is a licensed professional and has augmented her expertise by becoming a certified Registered ParaplannerSM through the College for Financial Planning®.
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