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Steve Vernon and Naomi Karp: Proactively Addressing Cognitive Decline

Stan Haithcock
August 9, 2022
Steve Vernon and Naomi Karp: Proactively Addressing Cognitive Decline

About Fun With Annuities Episode #121

There was some serious IQ on this Fun With Annuities podcast when Steve Vernon and Naomi Karp joined me as celebrity guests.  They and their associates are pioneers in researching how to plan for and the effects of cognitive decline.

Their free online tool called the Thinking Ahead Roadmap; A Guide to Keeping Your Money Safe As You Age is a site you need immediately pin as one of your favorites and part of your overall planning resources.  The website and PDFs are a free resource to the public, and people can order printed copies of everything offered on the site at no cost.  I love that! They are also developing a facilitator’s guide that will enable organizations to sponsor workshops and webinars to reach their audiences.  Talk about thorough!

We covered so much intellectual ground that you might have to listen to this several times to get your arms around the topic and to-do lists.  Some of the questions we covered are…

  • How prevalent is this risk? How much can seniors lose?
  • What should seniors do to protect themselves and their families?
  • Why should you take the time to protect yourself?
  • What are the roadblocks and challenges that seniors face?
  • What signs it might be time to transfer responsibility for managing your money?
  • What’s the best way for seniors to give their financial advocates the legal authority to manage their money?
  • What are the tools and resources that seniors can use?
  • How can you become aware of the risks and challenges?

And from those questions, we dug in deeper.  Their research team includes Marti DeLiema (Assistant Professor & Gerontologist at the University of Minnesota), Naomi Karp (Nationally Recognized Elder Law Attorney & Consultant on Aging Law and Policy), and Steve Vernon (Longevity Researcher & Actuary).  Marti could not join us for the podcast, but Naomi & Steve knocked the ball out of the podcast park.

Another cool thing about their research is that it is funded by the AARP and the Society of Actuaries. The Stanford University Center is also doing work for Longevity Research.  Good heady stuff!

This is one of those topics that is hard for many people to deal with, but we can’t ignore this reality.  You know that.  Enjoy the ride.

"You get to your late 70’s - 90’s, let’s just be frank, you’re quite not as sharp as you used to be. It is the case that you are more vulnerable to making mistakes or being exploited by unscrupulous relatives or friends. The best time to plan for that is when you still have all your wits intact and to put safeguards in place later to be triggered when you might need them." —  Steve Vernon

"You wanna be proactive now because if you get to a point where you are - already having cognitive challenges whether it be mild cognitive impairment or dementia, not only won’t you really be able to think through these things in the best possible way but legally you won’t even be able to put someone in place. You can’t make a power of attorney if you don’t have full capacity to understand what it means to make a power of attorney." —  Naomi Karp

Brief Bio on Co-host: Naomi Karp

Naomi is a lawyer whose career has focused on improving later life for older adults. In her work for large non-profit organizations and the federal government, she has engaged in research, policy formulation, and advocacy on health care, long-term services and supports, financial exploitation, advance planning, and consumer protection. Currently, she is an independent consultant on law and aging, working with government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Brief Bio on Co-host: Steve Vernon

Steve is president of Rest-of-Life Communications, where he uses his actuarial expertise and experience to address the series of critical decisions and issues facing older workers and retirees throughout the rest of their lives. He has published seven retirement planning books and written over 1,000 posts on retirement topics for CBS MoneyWatch and

In this episode, The Annuity Man®, Steve Vernon and Naomi Karp discuss:

  • Safeguarding from financial exploitation
  • The Money Path: six steps to protect yourself
  • Things to consider when getting multiple advocates
  • Easing someone else into planning for cognitive decline

Key Takeaways:

  • Financial exploitation is something you need to safeguard your future self against because as you age, it’s only natural that you’d be more vulnerable to making mistakes. Keep in mind that 5% of financial exploitation is done by someone a person knows and trusts.
  • First, choose a trusted financial advocate. Second, organize your financial information. Third, start a conversation with your advocate. Fourth, explain your situation, goals, values and expectations. Fifth, officially appoint your advocate under a power of attorney. Sixth, acknowledge the signs in advance.
  • When choosing multiple advocates for your finances, set it up so that decisions won’t require the sign-off of multiple people. You can also set up an accountability system to make sure your advocates are doing it right. There needs to be communication in order to avoid conflict.
  • Getting your parents to agree to planning for cognitive decline might require that you give them a gentle nudge through asking questions. Remember that asking questions is far more engaging than direct statements.

Fun With Annuities® Podcast is hosted by America’s Annuity Agent®, Stan The Annuity Man®, and a Celebrity Co-Host. Hear facts with no sales pitches from the top independent agent in the country, licensed in all 50 states. Stan and his guests dive deep into topics such as annuities, finance, retirement, and so much more. It’s fun learning the facts and seeing if they’ll fit your personal retirement lifestyle. Thanks for being here!

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