Lessons from Life

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Financial Professional Offers Advice From Experience

“I am the caretaker for my Dad, a job I truly love. I guess I am just returning the favor. I know some day it might be me in his shoes. I have many kids, and I am setting an example for them. This is the circle of life,” says Bill Cummings, of Cummings Financial Organization.

In the musical “The Lion King,” there is a song called the “Circle of Life” (go ahead and sing it). Part of the lyrics state:

“It’s the circle of life. And it moves us all. Through despair and hope, through faith and love. Till we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the circle, the circle of life.”

“I had a life moment last week with one of my kids that made me think of the circle of life and how it has affected my business,” says Cummings.

Just as your relationship with you children changes as they grow and develop, your relationship with your parents will likely change as they age.

Just as your relationship with you children changes as they grow and develop, your relationship with your parents will likely change as they age.

“One of our grown daughters was home last weekend, since she wanted to take a break from her Master’s program. So we all went to dinner, and low and behold, when the bill came, she offered to pay her own way! I was shocked,” he said. “Furthermore, the next morning she offered to pay for breakfast. Now, I am in total shock. This is the first time she has offered to pay. As a young parent, you can never imagine that day coming.”

You care for your children, you mold them, give advice, worry and pay all their expenses. Then one day, the tides turn and they want less and less of your advice. Then as they head off on their own, it changes. Most kids still need your money, and eventually come back to you for advice. If they have children of their own, then they really come back for advice, and, of course, free babysitting. This is the circle of life that Cummings is talking about.

The circle of life has affected Cummings in significant ways. His father has Alzheimer’s and is in an Alzheimer’s unit at Horizon Bay Memory Care in Tampa, Florida. Cummings serves as his caretaker and helps with responsibilities such as bills, shopping, doctor appointments, etc. “I am also responsible for making sure he is living in the right facility and has the proper care,” says Cummings.

After experiencing the difficulties of learning “Care-Giving 101” on his own, Cummings has provided four essential caregiving tips, so that you don’t have to learn the hard way:

  1. Take care of yourself. Being the caretaker to your loved one can be a truly gratifying experience, but in order for this to be the case, it is essential that you remember to take the time to maintain your own health and well-being. Remember, you cannot help others if you do not help yourself.
  2. Create a team of elder care specialists. Seniors are often treated for a wide array of medical conditions. Navigating through the various types of physicians best suited for your loved one can seem like a daunting task, but a geriatrician is a medical doctor trained to help you in matters specific to seniors.
  3. Do the numbers. Determining cash flow and what can be afforded for their care is essential. Certain Certified Public Accountants offer specialized services, which are available to meet the unique needs of seniors and their families.
  4. Hire the right people. As a caregiver, you are essentially a project manager, and you cannot do everything. For this reason, it is important to do your homework when hiring institutions, attorneys, social workers, therapists, etc. Research reviews, contact references and take your time when making your decisions.

Cummings often reflects on how the “circle of life” caught him off-guard. He was not prepared when his father had a stroke four years ago. “I was a busy business owner and dealing with my Dad was not on my schedule,” he says. “Where was I to turn for advice, the Internet? I had to drive to multiple places, see multiple doctors, interview caretakers, etc. Boy, did I make a lot of mistakes. This affected me so much that I made a pact that I did not want any of my friends or clients to go through this experience.”

Adding Elder Care to his practice because of this “pact,” Cummings has developed strategic relationships with caregivers, elder law attorneys, home downsizers, therapists, social workers, physicians and bill payers. “I help families assess healthcare costs, living costs, and how to pay for it while maximizing what goes to their loved ones. It is truly gratifying to help someone through this process.”

Bill Cummings is President and Owner of Cummings Financial Organization.

Published: April 2014

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