Don’t let ageism stop you from talking about longevity

Our society has a strong bias against aging. Just think about the first words that come to mind when you think of old people — words such as frail, slow, cranky, feeble or sick are typically associated with seniors.

The financial industry uses this narrative to sell financial products and plans, especially to women, who fear becoming a burden to their adult children due to their risk of longevity. The problem is that this perspective contributes to money silence in families and denies the fact that clients are living longer than ever before. 

[More: How old are you, really?]

Life expectancy in the United States is approximately 80 years, with the number of people living to 100 years or older, known as centenarians, on the rise. Women statistically outlive men and represent 85% of centenarians. While the COVID-19 pandemic has many people focused on dying prematurely, chances are many of your clients need to be planning for and discussing their needs and wishes should they live a long life.  

Here are three tips for engaging your clients in a longevity conversation:

  • Examine aging mindsets. According to Louise Aronson, author of the New York Times Best Seller “Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, and Reimaging Life,” how you think about getting older strongly influences your health and emotional well-being in your later years. Ask your clients what words they associate with getting older and who in their families lived long lives. The words and stories they share will give you a glimpse into their aging mindset and how their perspective influences their attitudes toward financially planning and talking about this final phase of life with you and the next generation.
  • Explore current and future social connections. Many studies on aging find a correlation between people who make and maintain meaningful social connections and people who live a longer, healthier life. Take time to discuss your clients’ social lives now and how retiring may impact these connections. As part of the financial planning process, brainstorm ways to stay actively involved with other people. Consider encore careers, volunteering, taking up a hobby or spending time with family
  • Facilitate longevity conversations across generations. A study done by AgeUp found that 56% of millennials and Gen Xers have never talked to their parents about their retirement plans, but 67% anticipate making the majority of their parents’ financial decisions if they reach 90 years of age or older. Make it a priority to aid your clients in bridging this communication gap. Start these conversations by focusing on the positive aspects of aging and encourage parents to share their core values and how those connect to how they want to spend their elder years. Encourage adult children to ask curious questions and develop a plan for how the family can continue the dialogue outside your office.

Breaking money silence on longevity with your clients is not a one-time event. It is a dialogue that occurs over time. Your role as a trusted adviser is to help clients think about all the possibilities so they can holistically plan for the future and share their wishes with the next generations to ensure success. 

The post Don’t let ageism stop you from talking about longevity appeared first on InvestmentNews.

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