What’s the real cost of ill health in later life?

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Frequently I am asked, ‘how much will ill health cost me later in life?’ Often, I see the fear and concern in the eyes of clients as they recall friends or relatives who have seen their wealth and savings disappear to fund the additional costs of a more comfortable remainder of their life.

With the tools at our disposal at Serenity, it is easy to demonstrate the impact on what the funding impact may look like, what may be left, and where there may be shortfalls. Maybe some clever estate planning can protect the beneficiaries and beat the local authority, or maybe, there may be some form of protection which can be put in place to cater for the surges in fees?

Take a step back for a moment, and ask yourself – ‘What is my greatest worry?’

Maybe, just maybe, you want to feel comfort, happiness, and a sense of satisfaction or achievement. Maybe there are things which you want to get done, things which one day you will no longer be able to achieve. Maybe ill health will make this impossible irrespective of what wealth you have?

Undoubtedly, ill health makes people reflect on their financial situation, but are you adequately prepared for that time when life changes – an awareness that unlike a video game, there is no ‘Play Again’ button. The chance has gone, and all that is left, is the rest of your life with whatever state of health you have, and whatever restrictions are now imposed upon you.

You may be familiar with the Retirement Smile – where spending (and activity) starts off high, reduces after perhaps 15 years, then suddenly, expenditure escalates in the last few years of life. That can be modelled with various assumptions, but there are so many variables, most of which involves you as a person, not necessarily your wealth.

Ask yourself this – how prepared are you to be told tomorrow that you can no longer do the simple things you take for granted – walking with comfort, being able to go out unaided, travel abroad – even drive your car. Just think for a minute what that would be like if you found that out yesterday?

This happens to somebody every single day.

Was the first thing which sprung to mind ‘how will I cope financially’ or was it ‘all those things I promised myself, I can no longer do’. ‘One day I’ll…..’ – that sentence suddenly

stops, as one day can never come again – you’ve missed your chance.

There are two burning questions :

  1. How prepared are you for when your life has to change – have you done the things which matter most, or are there still things left undone. Have you lived the life they wanted, have you become the version of yourself which you aspired to be?
  2. Would you rather have the resources to live now, and to have comfort in the future, or are you hell bent on getting one over the local authority which could mean sacrificing your future comfort?

Read ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ by Bronnie Ware, and you will find huge insight into both of those questions, and each is ultimately a question of choice. Until you know what your true objectives are, what your real choice would be, is it really possible to plan around the ifs, buts, and maybes?

Our role as Financial Planners at Serenity is to be aware, that every discussion we have with you impacts the rest of your life, and none of us know how long that will last – it could be 10 hours or 40 years. Once we have that awareness, we can prepare you for change, for ill health, and have the discussion which enables you not to miss out on what you hold most dear. The worst words anyone can ever hear are ‘If only I thought to do this before’.

That is the real cost of ill health in later life – the cost of regret.

– Jeremy Squibb

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