Long Term Care – Helping LTC Planning Clients Believe in Themselves

Californians don’t have it easy when it comes to paying for long term care. Across the Golden State, assisted living costs run about 7% higher than nationally, at $45,000 per year. The cost of a home health aide in California ($52,624) is over $7,000 per year more than the national average.

Planning to cover long-term care costs can be overwhelming given the myriad of financial obligations facing those who are nearing retirement or in retirement coupled with the desire to provide an inheritance. With the higher cost of care, Californians are even more flummoxed than the average American as to how to pay for these potential costs. During my career, I have spoken with thousands of people about their financial future. Many doubt their ability to cover these costs on their own.

Four ways to Help Your Clients

Albert Bandura, the world-renowned psychologist from Stanford Univ., has focused much of his career on “self-efficacy,” which is the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome. Researchers have been exploring the connection between self-efficacy and financial well-being because it can be such a powerful catalyst for change.

Based on Bandura’s research, it would stand to reason that people who believe that they can be successful in personal financial matters have a positive outlook, exert more effort, and recover more quickly from setbacks. But people who have self-doubt remain fearful rather than productive and proactive.

You can inspire motivation and success with your clients by integrating Bandura’s four sources of self-efficacy into your financial planning practice:

1. Success – Experiencing success is the most effective way to build self–efficacy. A client’s success in financial matters is the strongest indicator of their financial self-efficacy. A client who continually fails to achieve financial goals is very likely to continue to fail. You should define short-term achievable goals that allow clients to experience success and build up to a higher level of financial self-efficacy. It could be as simple as creating a savings account. This step could give them the confidence to take on larger financial goals, such as creating a financial plan to reduce spending and pay-off debt.

2. Vicarious Experience – During your client meetings, ask about people whom they admire or wish to emulate financially. Statements such as, “My brother and his wife were able to take early retirement,” may spur discussion about how that success was achieved and how your client can achieve similar outcomes.

3. Verbal Encouragement – Verbal encouragement can persuade people that they have the skills to succeed. Highlight areas where your client has enjoyed success in their lives and explain how those same skills can deliver success in their financial matters.

4. Management of Physical and Emotional Response – Moods, physical reactions, and stress affect how people view their capabilities. Although it may be difficult to help your client control their stress or their emotions (other professionals likely better suited for that task), addressing the unknowns of future finances like long term care may greatly improve that emotional state. This is the perfect opportunity to suggest that your clients talk with their loved ones and put into place a strategy to deal with the emotional, physical and financial possibilities of those issues. It’s also important to pass along useful resources that can help your clients manage such emotions, such as www.longtermcareinsurance.org.

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Wendy Boglioli is national spokesperson for Genworth.