The Ink Penn

If one reads a lot, often seemingly disparate stories come together to suggest a future-focused theme. Take stories about the impact of artificial intelligence, robots, technology, a progressive push for universal basic income, and Lewy body dementia (LBD).

A story in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 2/3/19, spotlighted Lewy body dementia, a dreadful “disease that can look like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”

Luminaries such as Ted Turner, Robin Williams, and former Georgia governor Zell Miller, either died from the degenerative infirmity or are fighting it.

The survival rate for LBD averages 7.3 years, Alzheimer’s, 8.5 years. Memory loss with Alzheimer’s declines consistently over time, but decline is not as even with LBD. Some LBD patients remain aware of their condition until the end, a living hell for patient and caregiver. In many cases involving an infirm loved one, the strain on a caregiver can be worse than that of the patient. Such realities are important discussion elements of financial planning for retirement, long term care coverage or self-funding capability, living and testamentary estate planning. Conversations may include how much you want your children, especially the alpha child or children that may be empowered to step in, to know about your finances and planning.

The AJC piece quoted Emory neurologist Dr. William Hu who studies dementia.

Regarding LBD, Hu said, “We are focusing on improving general brain health whatever the cause of the disease. It’s about exercise. It’s about reducing stress. It’s about having a purpose in life. It’s about social and cognitive interactions. These in clinical trials have proven to improve brain health.”

The Exit Planning Institute (EPI) has reported that roughly 70 percent of closely-held business owners who sell their business regret it a year later. The business often was their life, why they got up in the morning. They were the leader with responsibilities. Fast forward one year. You can only play so much golf. You can’t travel 365 days a year. The children and grandchildren have their own lives; they’re busy. The “in charge go-go executive” is bored! He or she is driving the spouse nuts! Losing meaning, direction, and purpose in retirement has been linked to a rising incidence of late-in-life divorce and increased alcoholism. It isn’t just business owners. It’s professionals, executives, managers, workers of all stripes. “Retirement readiness” goes beyond money. How does brain health, exercise and physical fitness, reduced stress, meaning and purpose play into your post-working-for-money future? What’s your plan?

We see more and more articles on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, technology, and the progressive push for universal basic income whereby the government guarantees a basic monthly income so people are free to “create, code, dream” and “me just being me.” Will truck, taxi, and Uber drivers lose jobs when self-driving vehicles, delivery drones and robots become ubiquitous? With job obsolescence and layoffs, what does that do to self-respect, meaning, purpose? All advances create new job opportunities and demands for new skills and training and retraining. But technology leaps forward tend to favor the better educated and the mobile. The low skilled and those with limited educations get left behind. How does that impact immigration policies and potential floods of those with marginal skills into our country, particularly in an uncontrolled manner? What do trends tell the young and their parents about planning for educations, college or vocational training? None of this is simple!

Writer Andrew Sullivan, in a piece entitled “The Four-Hour Work Day,” contemplated the future of work, displacement, and income disruption. He noted, we can always work, but can we do it profitably? We often see workers downsized and forced to take jobs at lower incomes, wrecking future plans and family security. Observes Sullivan, “If a universal basic income emerges, or if technology renders our bodies and minds unnecessary for the success of our societies, we will still need to work, to do things. But we will almost certainly have to re-imagine what work is like, what work outside of the motives of profit or efficiency can mean, what value we attach to what we do each day, and how we do it.” (nymag.com, 2/1/19).

These issues influence fiscal and physical fitness and mental and physical health as one contemplates major life transitions for self and loved ones, regardless of age and state in life. It starts with choices and direction early in life, education and training decisions, career planning, marriage, family formation, how money is earned and managed, right on through working years into retirement and the “go-go, slow-go, no-go, and gone” years. It’s about talent and God’s gifts to you and what He planned for you to do with your unique abilities, the source of true meaning, purpose, and well-being.

It’s a lot to think about. “Not thinking about it” is a decision hazardous to your health and wealth.

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which otherwise is unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He is a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®).

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