Strategies for aging investors

I wrote this earlier today but it was buried in someone else’s thread. I think that developing strategies for aging investors is important since none of us are getting any younger. Many METARs are over age 60 so this is relevant to our board.

People lose their cognitive function for a number of reasons. Long Covid has brought the expression “brain fog” to general awareness, but I experienced this after surgery. (Lasted months.) Many seniors take multiple prescription drugs, whose side effects and/or interactions can affect the brain. There are many types of dementia with various causes.

Higher intelligence and greater education have been found to delay the onset of dementia. Currently, the hypothesis is that higher IQ and education correlate with greater “cognitive reserve.”

Of course, smarter and higher educated people (on average) live healthier lifestyles and can afford better medical care. The dementia studies controlled for these obvious confounding factors.…

September 7, 2018
Intelligence, Cognitive Reserve, and Dementia
Time for Intervention?
by Tom C. Russ, PhD, MRCPsych

Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) is now recognized to be a disease of the whole life course and it is accepted that, while the neuropathological changes of Alzheimer disease develop decades before the clinical symptoms of dementia begin, important risk factors can have their effect much earlier in life, perhaps even before birth…
Several authors, Neurology 2007

Conclusions: The association between low education and dementia is probably not explained by the unhealthy lifestyles of the less educated compared with higher educated persons. Higher educated persons may have a greater cognitive reserve that can postpone the clinical manifestation of dementia. ApoE4 did not modify the association, but the risk of dementia and AD was very low among ApoE4 noncarriers with high education. [ApoE4 is a genetic allele which increases the risk of AD.]
Role of cognitive reserve in progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia
Several authors, Dementia & Neuropsychologia 2010

Cognitive reserve is the ability to optimize performance through differential recruitment of brain networks, which may reflect the use of alternative cognitive strategies. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can convert to degenerative dementia. Risk factors for those who converted were education less than 12 years, MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) score less than 27, Boston naming test score less than 51, IQ (Intelligence Quotient) less than 111, age over 75 years, lack of occupation at retirement, and presence of intrusions in memory recall (all account for 56% of the variability of conversion).

Cognitive reserve is the ability to optimize performance through differential recruitment of brain networks, which may reflect the use of alternative cognitive strategies. The idea of reserve against brain damage stems from the repeated observation that there does not appear to be a direct relationship between the degree of brain pathology and the clinical manifestation of the damage. [end quote]

Most (if not all) METARs are highly educated and at least some are also highly intelligent. :wink:

Our recent poll showed that most METARs have net worth over a million dollars. All of us have assets that could attract the nefarious greed of strangers (or friends or family).

Previous studies have shown that MCI can manifest as a loss of executive function in financial management long before obvious memory problems show up. A person who is still able to do simple financial chores like paying the bills may become vulnerable to fraudulent financial manipulation. This is so well-recognized that at least one local government has set up a hot line for reporting of elder financial exploitation. Approximately one in every five older adults in this country has been the victim of financial exploitation.…

As aging, wealthy people, we need to become aware that we could potentially become less able to manage our money. The question of what to do about it is serious because it isn’t obvious.

Any concerned person can appeal to a court to place an incompetent person into conservancy. This can be protective but can also be seriously abused by the court-appointed guardian who takes over the management of the ward’s assets.

“The Retirement Nightmare” was written by a daughter whose siblings took over their mother’s assets in an involuntary conservatorship.…… – good movie, worth watching

“The Retirement Nightmare” says that the most effective way to protect assets is to place them into a Revocable Living Trust. This places the assets in control of the successor trustee in case of inability of the grantor to act as trustee. A court-appointed guardian isn’t the trustee and can’t legally access assets in the trust.

My lawyer advised adding a clause to my Revocable Living Trust giving the successor trustee the ability to take over the assets if the grantor shows signs of mental incapacity, without the agreement of the grantor. I did not agree to this because it opens the same vulnerability.

This is a very serious issue. The solution isn’t obvious.

Most people experience mental decline with age. How much is too much to continue to manage our own assets? Whom can we trust to manage them for us? Would it be better to put investments on “autopilot” (a simple scheme like my rather tongue-in-cheek 2-step investing program suggested to intercst in an earler thread)?

What are you’all doing?


Any concerned person can appeal to a court to place an incompetent person into conservancy.

Not easily done, nor should it be, but the bar to competency in some states is too low. We had both Mom and Dad checked for competency after many issues. Mom flunked hands down, having had a stroke 10 years prior that had left her 1/4 there. Dad knew the year, who the POTUS was, and that was all that was required to be found competent. He was not awarded custody of Mom, however, and Sis became her guardian.

There was a need for Dad to be relieved of his responsibilities. We spent years getting this once savvy person out of one financial disaster after another, though there was a net loss of several hundred thousand dollars we could not get him out of. The more out of control his life became, the more aggressive he got. It was due to dealing with him as he went down the Alzheimer’s road that I learned the need to protect ourselves from ourselves as we age.

The quest for how to do that is not simple. Anything we have figured out has it’s own risks.

We have our kids as “concerned person” contacts should the brokerage determine there is reason to be worried about our financial actions. We have a family trust. We are postponing taking SS until 70 and FRA to max out future flow, as an insurance over our doing something stupid with our finances, and are in the process of simplifying our investments. We talk with the kids about finances, not keeping it a mystery.

That’s a start and we are still relatively young, with at least 10 years before we need to worry. Probably more.

Outliving our brains functionality is one of the downsides of living longer.


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