Patrick Roden, RN PhD, aging in place industry thought leader

Aging in Place The IDEA Series: The Dirtiest Word in Personal Finance and Why You Really Need it if You are Serious about Aging in Place!


Money isn’t everything, but it is when you start thinking about putting money away for your retirement days.

-Andre Leon Talley


Guest Post by Adriane Berg


Aging in Place The IDEA Series


Bad news sells. Ask any media expert, including those in the financial press. A good negative story can be milked for years. That’s exactly what’s happening right now when it comes to retirement investing for people serious about aging-in-place.


Perhaps the only investment which guarantees a lifelong stream of income is trashed in the press because of flaws in an entirely different strategy which, unfortunately, has the same name.

When Patrick asked me to write a “take a risk” article on aging-in-place, I decided I would reveal the truth about what has become the dirtiest word in financial planning. Here it is: ‘annuities.’

Actually there are two dirty words. The other is ‘insurance.’ Yet, selected properly (properly being the operative word) annuities and insurance with life benefits can be life savers.


With them, here is what you get:


  • Lifelong guaranteed income
  • Doubling of that income without further investment in the event you need long-term care or wish assistance to age-in-place
  • Participation in a wide variety of securities’ indexes that can give you the same diversification and balance as if you owned many stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and even gold, with no downside risk
  • With insurance, the ability to borrow out your gains tax free to create additional income and still leave a legacy


These annuity and insurance strategies are contracts with high rated companies that guarantee you will never lose money, even in the worst correction or recessionary environment. In other words, you make money with the markets, but you can never lose either your principal or the amounts you earned– never.


If you are serious about aging-in-place you simply cannot afford to lose money.

Yet, the public is sadly misinformed or uninformed on how annuities and certain life insurance can save their future and provide the practical means to age-in-place. Trouble is brewing. The Fed has two chances to act, October and December, to raise interest rates.

If rates rise, your bottom line is affected if:

  • You own long-term bonds or bond funds
  • You own stocks in corporations that grow through borrowing
  • You own stocks that don’t pay dividends and are subject to abandonment by investors who are looking for higher interest

And that’s just the effect of interest rates on your portfolio. What about debt?

If like me you are over 65 you must plan very strategically. That strategy could include lifelong guarantees, so we never outlive our money. In my latest book with Ronald Gelok, who creates retirement tax-free income strategies you’ll find this paragraph:

With investments that directly involve securities, there are no guarantees against loss or of performance–past performance is no guarantee of future results. If the client says, “Look, I’m really craving some type of guarantee that will protect a portion of my retirement savings against loss and would give me some level of guaranteed income,” we look to offerings from insurance companies that do just that.

 We can use a fixed annuity tied to a market index. In that case, your accountant doesn’t go backward when the market goes backwards. At the same time, you are capturing interest credits linked to the S&P 500 in the good years, keeping those gains, avoiding losses in the down years, with a lifetime guarantee writer that will compound at 6% or 6.5% or 7% per year to meet future income needs.


 Beating the Fear Factor: 15 Minutes to Your Ideal Retirement

Ronald Gelok, with Adriane Berg

Wealthbuilder Press  (Click here to receive a free copy)


The Longevity Gap

The average baby boomer is in danger of running out of money before they run out of years. The old financial wisdom was that you could take 4% of your nest egg, add it to your Social Security and pension, and have a pretty good retirement. The whole picture changed when interest rates got near zero, real rates of return became negative, full Social Security was postponed until after age 67, pensions disappeared, and expected lifespan increased on average to the late 80s, early 90s.


I admit, even as a cheerleader for the baby boom generation, we spent too much, partied too hardy, and saved too little. OK, now let’s get over it and grab a lifesaver when it’s thrown to us. 

No doubt, you have heard that annuities are too expensive, do nothing for you and are sold by devils who want your money to be illiquid in their grubby hands forever.


Yet, I think annuities are essential for aging-in-place. Why the dichotomy? Let’s unpack this problem and place the blame where it belongs. The blame is in the nomenclature.

The types of annuities that get negative press should get negative press. They are variable annuities, with high fees and little to recommend them. I am not a fan.


What I consider aging-in-place contracts are fixed indexed annuities, and in cases of insurability where people are also interested in a legacy for children or grandchildren, indexed life insurance.

My book “How Not to Go Broke at 102” Wiley 2008, predicted that these contracts with powerful insurance companies could be designed to help 78 million baby boomers in their retirement. Riders that were not yet fully available in 2008, like income doubling in case of long-term care needs, lifetime benefits that accelerate death benefits in the event of a catastrophic illness, wide varieties of investment choices, bonuses on signing to make up for past losses, and penalty free withdrawals to counteract the illiquidity problem were yet to come. Now they’re here.


The White House Conference on Aging


In July of 2015 I was invited to attend The White House Conference on Aging. This Conference happens only once every 10 years and sets the Federal agenda for important matters such as Social Security, Medicare, elder abuse, transportation and more.

What struck me was the statement by President Obama that people already in the Social Security system are safe until 2042. I’m not sure what ‘safe’ means; but, I’m not aiming to sit around and fail to protect myself. The wise baby boomer can no longer have a set it and forget it attitude when it comes to their finances.


You must take you longevity seriously.


 In the years before I became a financial adviser working with individual clients, I was an attorney working with individual clients. In fact, for 35 years I practiced as an estates and trust and elder law attorney. I joined with 26 other lawyers to form The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. I tell you from experience that the days of positioning assets for government entitlements for long-term care are coming to an end. What we used to do very successfully with legal strategies, we must now do with financial strategies.


Don’t reject any strategy on the say-so of the press, until you explore it first for yourself. Check out the fixed index annuity and the index life insurance contract. The ‘investment that dare not speak its name’ may just be the solution for you.





Adriane Berg is the Director of Lifelong Income and Lifestyle Planning for Ronald Gelok & Associates. She offers clients special assistance in crafting their retirement plans and funding them with secure and lasting strategies. She is renowned in the financial industry for her innovation in creating Longevity Planning, a concept for investing throughout the age continuum. Ms. Berg is a New York Times Age Beat Fellow and has trained hundreds of financial advisors on the ethics and strategies of helping older adults. She won the 2015 National Mature Media Gold Award for her radio show: Generation Bold: The Fountain of Truth, syndicated on BIZTALK, heard in 30 states.


Speaker and spokesperson: Berg is one of the most credentialed and recognized speakers in the nation and internationally. Adriane is a veteran of satellite tours and spokesperson content creation and delivery for companies such as VTech Careline™, and American Express/MBNA , Golden Cuisine Senior Meals, Cognifit and more. She delivers carefully tailored presentations that make any event memorable. Her presentations employ humor, case studies and extensive audience interaction to get profound and lasting results. She is also a renowned speaker in the field of world travel and tourism and residential relocation as a function of worldwide aging and the passion for new experiences, and new housing concepts.


Media host:  Adriane is a well-known TV and radio personality, with multiple appearances on Oprah, Good Morning America and Regis.  Ms. Berg hosted WABC’s Money Talks and FNN’s “IRS Tax Beat,” for which she won a local Emmy.


Author/Journalst:  Adriane is a New York Times Age Beat Fellow, and columnist for Boomer-Living Plus, with outreach to women, through her column for Contrarian Profits Newsletter, The Women’s Financial Edge. She is author of 13 books, translated into many languages, the latest being, “How Not To Go Broke at 102: Finding Everlasting Wealth,” Wiley 2008, and contributor to “Marketing to Boomers and Beyond,” CD Press 2011.


Law: Ms. Berg is an innovator in the field of longevity, having helped found the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and introducing the concepts of longevity planning and longevity law to the financial and legal professions.  Ms. Berg graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Delta Pi from Brooklyn College, and was an Editor of the Law Review, NYU School of Law, where she achieved her JD degree.


Boards: She sits on the Board of Women’s Leadership Exchange, the Wellness Group for Reimaging Heath Care, and the Caregiver Calvary for reimaging family caregiving. Ms. Berg is a member of Under A Tree, consultants to hospitality and healthcare developers on sustainable building for the older adult.


Thank you Adriane for your contribution to Aging in Place: The IDEA Series