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Staying Put: Aging In Place During COVID's Digital Age

For many, a supportive living community is a welcome transition that provides not only a safety net of health and well being but also a built in community of friends and peers. Some even characterize it as a return to the fun of college/dorm living for the golden years. In a quick about face, COVID has sent many retreating to be at arm's length and hunkering down with aging in place as a safe bet.

With that, we are all needing to opt for digital and distanced interactions - online grocery, zoom meetings, curbside pick ups, telehealth visits, virtual worship, online banking...... No group feels this more than the boomer+ population. Yet, what if all of those activities didn't represent convenience and ease of use? What if all of those activities represented frustration, fear of identity theft/financial loss, lost information, compromised health or just overall inadequacy? This is the dirty little secret that no one talks about when promoting the pluses of living in today's digital age. For most over the age of 50, digital apps and platforms can be sources of anxiety and frustration as they are created for a cohort a few decades younger. For the mature adult, a face to face interaction with a banker, physician or legal advisor is the preferred method of management for the important matters of finance, health and planning. Sadly, the state of the world today doesn't allow for person to person management. Digital is all we have in many instances thus leaving the boomer+ at the losing end of the learning curve. Did you know that only a mere 9% of those over the age of 65 use mobile banking (American Banking Journal)?

So, by this point in the post you may be considering a family member, friend or even a client and wondering if this applies to them. YES IT DOES! Ever so rarely do we talk about the minute details of how someone manages their money, household and health, let alone how they engage with the digital world. It is all assumed. It is assumed you have a login for your healthcare insurance, it is assumed that you can tap a button on your phone to view your investment portfolio, it is assumed you're prepared to jump on a Zoom at a moment's notice, it is assumed you can order dinner for delivery without talking to a soul.... We need to quit assuming and foster the due care that the family member, friend or client needs to continue the safe & secure management of their day to day life.

Now, let's also take a bigger step back and address a major misconception of digital engagement. If you know someone is using email, social media, youtube...... you should not make the automatic assumption that they're comfortable with fintech or electronic health record (AdvancedMD, MyChart...) platforms or apps. Trust with matters of health and money are not part of the boomer+ psyche. So much so that a 2019 study indicated that "two-thirds of smartphone users over 50 reported generally not using their device for banking or other financial purposes."

What's the solution? Having a conversation about the "how" we run our day to day lives has never been more important. As everyone knows, we have tools and resources galore - the importance is making sure they are used and used appropriately. If 2020 has taught the staff of Tight Ship Advisors anything, it is to take a few steps back and have a more detailed conversation. How can we be of service in bridging the gap of the paper v. digital management world? In order to effectively and safely age in place, the individual needs to be afforded all the protections and security of supportive living YET still allows them to remain in control of their household, finances & healthcare. With a Tight Ship Advisor acting as the "wing man", any one can safely navigate the vast landscape of online account management, social media/communication and virtual health for a positive outcome.

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