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Identifying financial security goals for later life

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Getting the conversation started is an important part of planning for long term care. What do you want for yourself? How about your spouse or partner, or loved ones? First read “Why Sort Out Goals?” below. Then take the online quiz, or print and complete the worksheet. Finally, examine your results and discuss them with others.​

Why sort out goals?

“Just tell me what the best alternative is for financing long term care.”

That’s what many people say. But what’s “best” depends on what is most important for the family members involved. Sorting that out means thinking and talking about very personal attitudes and beliefs. For most family members, what is important goes beyond financial or legal definitions. Many people fail to sort out what is most important to them. As a result, misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and conflicts among family members can result.

Not everyone will have the same goals. First, take time to identify what is important to you. Then compare your priorities with your spouse or other involved family members. Parents and their adult children often do not agree about what is most important. Finding out where you agree or disagree can help guide future decisions.

Knowing what is and isn’t important can help guide decisions about financing long term care. The following are common goals when making decisions about financing long term care:

  • Remaining financially independent
  • Maintaining control
  • Maintaining privacy
  • Involving family members
  • Using government resources
  • Leaving an inheritance

Identifying your goals

Find which goals related to financial security in later life are important to you. Either take an online quiz, or download and print a paper worksheet. Each version asks you to score how strongly you agree or disagree with a series of statements. The online version finds the average score of each section automatically. With the paper version, you will have to calculate the average score by hand.

After you take the quiz

The average score for each section indicates its importance to you. The closer a score is to 7, the more important it is to you. The closer a score is to 1, the less important it is to you. Goals mean different things to different individuals. What do your responses suggest about your expectations and goals?

Now that you know what is important to you, discuss it with others.

  • Consider who else needs to be part of these critical conversations and begin to talk. Learn where you agree or disagree.
  • Let your goals guide your decisions about alternatives for financing long term care.
  • Communicate your goals to those responsible for carrying out your wishes. Doing so will help others understand your intentions and reduce misunderstandings.

Marlene S. Stum, Extension specialist and professor in family social science

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