Quote of the Week

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

Technical Corner

Last week was a bad week for the markets. The Dow was down 0.2%, the S&P 500 was down1.0%, the MSCI EAFE was down 2.9%, and the Nasdaq was down 2.6%. A pattern is starting to develop with the International economies starting to accelerate downward and the high flyer stocks in the U.S. starting to come under pressure. We still have a buy signal with our software on the U.S. Market so we will stay the course until we get a signal to do otherwise.

The jobs report for August showed the economy added more than 200,000 jobs and that wages grew at the fastest pace since 2009 with a year over year increase of 2.9%. This all would look good if it weren’t for the fast slowdown in the rest of the world.

The Emerging Markets have come under increased pressure with the rise in the value of the dollar vs. other currencies. The problem with the rising dollar is that Emerging Market economies have in the last five years overborrowed in dollars expecting global economic expansion. Now that their currencies have devalued, it takes more of the local currency to pay the loans back in dollars. Counties such as Argentina, Turkey, and South Africa could end up defaulting and possibly start a banking contagion. This situation could spread rapidly and has so many times in the past. All it takes sometimes is one more tiny grain of sand to cause the sand pile to collapse. This concerns me.

It looks like the tariffs on $200 billion of trade from China will probably go through. The comment period has passed, and the tariffs are expected to go into force this month. I really don’t see Mr. Trump or China backing down. Remember tariffs are a tax on things we buy that are made in China. You should probably buy your upgraded cell phone now.

Larry’s Thoughts

I am a creature of habit. I like the fact that my weekend is pretty structured. On Sunday morning I really look forward to getting a cup of coffee, some sort of sweet item, and spending a couple of hours reading the newspaper and other items of interest that I have saved up during the week.

This Sunday in the Arizona Daily Star Home and Life section I ran across an article by Dr. Marilyn Heins, a local pediatrician. I found it especially interesting. In our practice, we have recently been advising a few clients on the issue of working with their aging parents. We have encouraged our clients to have “The talk” with their parents before the situation becomes critical. As you know, because we emphasize the complete planning process including how to work with aging parents, I thought this would be of interest.

Marilyn Heins: Caring for aging parents and its challenges

My recent column on becoming 88 generated so many responses I am still answering them. Several emails asked about dealing with aging parents.

Reverse parenting is my term for situations when aging parents can no longer care for themselves and adult children must assume care. This always feels like upside-down parenting because we carry warm memories of our parents caring for us. It may be difficult.

Let me begin by sharing my experiences. My mother was an educated and talented woman born in 1908, 12 years before women could vote. She was an artist who drew department store goods for newspaper ads before photography and digital art. Her passion was painting flowers, and her botanical art is in several museums.

My father died when mom was 87 and she lived alone in her art filled house with a beautiful garden she planted and tended. She drove and continued painting and gardening until she fell and broke her hip. She ‘aged in place’ with round the clock help for more than 10 years. My sister lived 30 miles of Boston traffic away. I lived across the country, a day-long plane ride away.

There was nothing her daughters could do to cajole or convince mom to move closer to one of us (I even had plans for an attached guest house) or to a senior facility. First she said she needed her studio. When she could no longer paint, ‘I will NEVER leave my house!’ became her mantra.

The garden was neglected, the house filled with magazines and much other ‘stuff ‘ she would not throw away. She refused to give away my father’s clothes. I spent a whole day in the basement going through many years of my father’s engineering journals to find the ones in which he had a paper or was cited. Sweaty and dusty I handed her those, which she cried over, and said the other journals were in trash bags. When I left, one of her caregivers was ordered to put them all back in chronological order.

I just received an email from the son of an 85-year-old man who wanted to move his father who had become a recluse and a hoarder. The house and garage were filled to the ceiling with things like old newspapers and magazines he would not let anyone dispose of.

Another wrote, ‘How can I get my parents who are almost 90 to dispose of their many items stacked in boxes in every nook and cranny in their house and garage? I am not talking about clutter, it is much worse than that. My children and I will do the work but we have to know what is valuable and what they want to keep.’

I have looked at this ‘…from both sides now’ to quote Joni Mitchells’ nearly 50-year-old song. I was the child of aging parents and now I am an aging parent. Neither role is easy.

I worried and fretted over my mother living alone. My children already do or will worry about me as I become less able to be independent. What is the answer? How do we coax or convince aging parents to listen? Can we? Should we?

Whether I write about babies or oldies, safety is my first concern. Yes, we want our toddlers to develop autonomy but we prevent them from running into the street. We want our parents to remain and feel independent for as long as possible but not at the expense of their safety and well-being.

I advise children and parents talk about these issues before they happen although this didn’t work in my family. Fortunately, mom had the means to age in place. Most of us, including me, do not. Or do not want to.

I suggest both parents and children familiarize themselves with the issue. Learn what independent living is. Many of us have bad memories of visiting a relative in a nursing home (my parents would not permit me to visit my beloved grandfather so I imagined he was in a horrible dungeon). There is a big difference between nursing homes then and senior facilities now.

I visited several friends and my aunt in various independent living facilities both in Tucson and Boston. I saw individual apartments, dining rooms and/or restaurants, socialization instead of being in ‘solitary’ which happens to many elderly when they can no longer drive.

What about hoarders? What about those oldies who are so attached to ‘stuff’ that they cannot bear to throw it out? In extreme cases the parent lives in squalor and ignores self-care. You should first offer to help. Some parents may be physically unable or overwhelmed and will welcome your help.

What about those like my own mother who resist or even sabotage you? I installed fire alarms and worried. I also called my mother and her caregivers every day. One woman I knew took her mother, who was repeatedly falling, to lunch and then drove to her new assisted living home. I do not recommend this draconian action but sometimes children have to act.

Information is available from community agencies like Pima Council on Aging – a Tucson treasure. Talk to others who experience similar frustrations with aging parents. Visit facilities to be prepared to answer your parents’ questions (and plan for your own future).

Everyone should have a will, a power of attorney to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated, and a durable power of attorney and living will so your end of life decisions are spelled out in writing.  I also signed a ‘Five Wishes’ document available from a hospice that lets you spell out the specifics of what you do and do not want done.  [**Lof Advisors has the document Five Wishes available if you would like a copy.  Please call 520-881-2523 or email [email protected] to request this document.]

Without these documents the issue between safety and autonomy may have to be decided in court. You will have to present evidence to the judge that your parent can no longer care for self or make decisions.

The best advice I can offer is talk to your parents long before they are in advanced old age.

These days we hear dreadful language in movies and on cable TV. People talk and read about sex without batting an eye, as my mother used to say. But death? The last taboo.

Don’t be squeamish. Have ‘The Talk’ about end of life decisions. Familiarize yourself with the issues. When? Long before your parents need it. Aging parents, if your kids don’t bring it up you should. Problems can best be resolved with knowledge and dialogue. Not silence and avoidance.

Dr. Heins is a pediatrician, parent, grandparent, great-step grandparent and the founder and CEO of ParentKidsRight.com.

Source: Marilyn Heins: Caring for aging parents and its challenges, SPECIAL TO THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR https://tucson.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/marilyn-heins-caring-for-aging-parents-has-its-challenges/article_3fa78903-809e-5e07-ac72-d0e647a20ebc.html  Accessed September 10, 2018

By the Numbers

“LUMP-SUM NEEDED – A present value (PV) amount of $210,435 is required to fund a $1,000 per month payment for 25 years with a +3% annual increase for maintenance of purchasing power if a +6% annual rate of return is maintained into the future.  The PV amount is $280,575 if the required payment period is 40 years.  The calculations ignore the impact of taxes and are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to reflect any specific investment alternative (source: BTN Research).    –  Michael A. Higley, BTN 09-10-2018

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These are the opinions of Larry Lof and Stephanie Mayoral and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Due to our compliance review process, delayed dissemination of this commentary occurs.

The S&P 500 is an index of stocks compiled by Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. The index includes a representative sample of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. Indices mentioned are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Technical analysis represents an observation of past performance and trend, and past performance and trend are no guarantee of future performance, price, or trend. The price movements within capital markets cannot be guaranteed and always remain uncertain. The allocation discussed herein is not designed based on the individual needs of any one specific client or investor. In other words, it is not a customized strategy designed on the specific financial circumstances of the client. Please consult an advisor to discuss your individual situation before making any investments decision. Investing in securities involves risk of loss. Further, depending on the different types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk including loss of original principal.

 

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