Plan Your Future with Financial Gerontology

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008
Frank Congemi

Just as physicians specialize in different areas of medicine such as cardiology or gynecology, financial planners can become specialists in certain areas. One such specialist is called a financial gerontologist, an expert who offers holistic strategies that encompass solutions for both financial and nonfinancial issues. Financial gerontologists work to identify concepts and ideas intrinsic to aging, and then apply them to develop and implement a comprehensive financial plan.

Multiple Disciplines

Financial gerontology incorporates findings from biology, psychology, sociology, and demography. It also explores the connections between health, wealth, and aging analyzed via the basic physical and psychological aging processes as influenced by social dynamics. It covers the challenge of financing longevity, seen through age-sensitive strategies for transforming accumulated wealth into lifelong income.

What can working with a financial gerontologist do for you? If you are a mid-career physician, you are probably concerned with helping your aging parents or other relatives. If you are near the end of your career and approaching retirement, you need a solid long-term plan. Financial gerontology recognizes that planning and caring for the elderly involves not just money, but also a host of other related decisions for seniors and their families.

A financial gerontologist's service combines elements of a financial advisor with that of a social worker, and counseling is a big part of the discipline. Financial gerontologists typically visit clients in their homes so they can get a sense of family dynamics. For instance, a husband or wife may not have discussed their financial fears with each other. Getting all the issues on the table helps financial gerontologists find the best solutions. Who's the best caregiver? Where can we find a specialized attorney who knows what he or she is doing and won't charge a fortune? How can we make sure all parts of our plan are coordinated? A financial gerontologist can help answer these questions and more.

Qualified Practitioner

A Registered Financial Gerontologist practitioner (a professional who holds the RFG designation from the American Institute of Financial Gerontology) can offer a network of resources. They can help find a qualified registered nurse, an elder-law attorney, and other specialists. A Registered Financial Gerontologist practitioner can help negotiate an attorney's price, monitor their work, and develop and implement a comprehensive financial strategy. These practitioners must complete courses that cover wealth-span planning; the physical, psychological, and social processes of aging; legal-financial tools including health care directives, wills, and trusts; ethics; and financing longevity in order to earn an RFG designation.

Thanks to the work of dedicated medical professionals, people are living longer and healthier lives. Financial gerontology ensures that finances too stay healthy as individuals reach their 80s, 90s, and beyond. To find a registered practitioner, call the American Institute of Financial Gerontology at 888-367-8470 or visit www.asaging.org.

Frank Congemi is a financial advisor who works with many physicians in several states. He lives in Deerfield Beach, Fla, and has an office in Queens, NY. He welcomes questions or comments at 800-228-2309 or frank@frankcongemi.com.




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