Plan Your Future with Financial Gerontology

Physician's Money Digest, July 2006, Volume 13, Issue 7

Just as physicians specialize in different areas ofmedicine such as cardiology or gynecology,financial planners can become specialists in certainareas. One such specialist is called a financialgerontologist, an expert who offers holisticstrategies that encompass solutions for both financialand nonfinancial issues. Financial gerontologistswork to identify concepts and ideas intrinsic to aging,and then apply them to develop and implement acomprehensive financial plan.

Multiple Disciplines

Financial gerontology incorporates findings frombiology, psychology, sociology, and demography. Italso explores the connections between health, wealth,and aging analyzed via the basic physical and psychologicalaging processes as influenced by social dynamics.It covers the challenge of financing longevity, seenthrough age-sensitive strategies for transformingaccumulated wealth into lifelong income.

What can working with a financial gerontologistdo for you? If you are a mid-career physician, you areprobably concerned with helping your aging parentsor other relatives. If you are near the end of yourcareer and approaching retirement, you need a solidlong-term plan. Financial gerontology recognizesthat planning and caring for the elderly involves notjust money, but also a host of other related decisionsfor seniors and their families.

A financial gerontologist's service combines elementsof a financial advisor with that of a socialworker, and counseling is a big part of the discipline.Financial gerontologists typically visit clients in theirhomes so they can get a sense of family dynamics.For instance, a husband or wife may not have discussedtheir financial fears with each other. Gettingall the issues on the table helps financial gerontologistsfind the best solutions. Who's the best caregiver?Where can we find a specialized attorney whoknows what he or she is doing and won't charge afortune? How can we make sure all parts of our planare coordinated? A financial gerontologist can helpanswer these questions and more.

Qualified Practitioner

A Registered Financial Gerontologist practitioner(a professional who holds the RFG designation fromthe American Institute of Financial Gerontology) canoffer a network of resources. They can help find aqualified registered nurse, an elder-law attorney, andother specialists. A Registered Financial Gerontologistpractitioner can help negotiate an attorney'sprice, monitor their work, and develop and implementa comprehensive financial strategy. Thesepractitioners must complete courses that coverwealth-span planning; the physical, psychological,and social processes of aging; legal-financial toolsincluding health care directives, wills, and trusts;ethics; and financing longevity in order to earn anRFG designation.

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

Frank Congemi is a financial advisor who works with many physiciansin several states. He lives in Deerfield Beach, Fla, and hasan office in Queens, NY. He welcomes questions or comments at800-228-2309 or frank@frankcongemi.com.