WEEKLY MARKET COMMENTARY
For the week of February 25, 2008
Markets were closed last Monday in observation of Presidents’ Day. After a choppy week, the markets moved higher just before the closing bell on Friday after CNBC revealed that bond insurer Ambac Financial may get help early this week propping up its finances. The news seemed to relieve some concerns about the financial sector’s prospects and overall economic weakness. For the week, the Dow gained 0.35 percent to finish the week at 12,381.02. The S&P also rose, adding 0.29 percent to end the week at 1,353.11, while the NASDAQ dropped 0.79 percent to close the week at 2,303.35.
Medical More Than Social – For the first time, government benefits to seniors for health care and nursing homes exceeded Social Security payments to those 65 and older. In 2007, the government spent an average of $27,289 per senior. Of that, Social Security benefit tables accounted for $13,184. Benefits for seniors have risen 24 percent more than inflation since 2000.
Many Zeros – The fiscal year 2009 budget submitted by President Bush to Congress earlier this month calls for government spending of $3.1 trillion for the year beginning Oct. 1, 2008. If you were to spend $1 billion a day, it would take you eight and a half years to spend $3.1 trillion (Source: White House, BTN Research).
I Might Be Wrong – Even though 57 percent of employees that are deferring at least 8 percent of their salaries into an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan say they enjoy managing their own finances, 65 percent of this high-saver group are not confident that their investment choices today will ultimately prove to be correct decisions (Source: MassMutual Financial Group, BTN Research).
Hard Worker – The average productivity of the American worker (defined as output per hour of work) has increased 52 percent over the past 20 years (1988-2007). Mathematically, this means the quantity of work done in 1987 during a 40-hour work week could now be completed in fewer than 26½ hours (Source: Department of Labor, BTN Research).
Look Back – As of Dec. 31, 2007, the S&P 500 was up 5.9 percent per year over the past 10 years, up 11.8 percent per year over the past 20 years, and up 13.0 percent over the past 30 years (Source: BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Planning for Aging Parents
Watching a parent becoming increasingly dependent on others for the normal activities of daily life can be a harsh reality. It can be even harder for the parent to admit needing help. Creating a plan for how you, your parent, your family and your parent’s medical professionals will handle that possible scenario can alleviate misunderstanding and confusion when a crisis arises. Here are six tips to prepare for your parent’s aging:
1. Pick a point of contact. One sibling or other close relative should be in charge of communicating with doctors. This person should have a health care power of attorney for the parent.
2. Find a family-friendly primary doctor. An elderly parent may receive care from multiple specialists. With your parent, decide on one doctor to be the primary medical resource. Make sure reports from specialists are sent to the primary doctor. If you are caring for your parent from a distance, consider asking your doctor if he or she is willing to communicate via email.
3. Create a central storage place for vital documents, including medical records, Social Security number and health insurance policy information. In an emergency, you don’t want to be digging through decades of files to find what you need. Hard copies should be duplicated and stored in at least two fire- and water-proof locations. Digital imaging and storage services offer a convenient place to access files remotely.
5. Create a care circle. Particularly if you live more than an hour or two away from your parent, a network of neighbors, church members and friends can give you some reassurance that others will keep in touch with your parent regularly and contact you in an emergency.
6. Discuss finances. The point-of-contact relative, or another relative equipped to deal with financial matters, should have a financial power of attorney. This person should know the location of key accounts and policies, and the names and phone numbers for key advisors.
A final word of advice: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. A parent who resists help can use emotional leverage to extract promises you may later find difficult to keep – like withholding information from other family members or vowing not to place the parent in a nursing facility. Discussing such issues ahead of time can help you and your family avoid these situations. If you would like help in creating a plan for caring for an aging parent, contact our office.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. SAI# 269884