Aging parents. A reality that is fraught with emotion for both parent and the adult child as the caregiver. To help navigate this process, from the complex feelings to proactive financial activities, Dr. Nicole B. Simpson, CFP®, co-authored The Quiet Shift. In this interview with Dr. Simpson, learn about the book, how her 9/11 experience impacted her life, legacy planning, and more.
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Interview with Dr. Nicole B. Simpson, CFP®
Reverend Dr. Nicole B. Simpson is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and CEO at Harvest Wealth Financial. She has more than 30 years in the securities industry.
When 9/11 occurred, she was in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, and her life changed forever. Her path took a turn to help families dealing with unexpected disasters and those dealing with the implications of aging parents, as well as becoming the Pastor of Micah 7 Ministries to inspire through faith.
Our conversation began by talking about The Quiet Shift, which she co-authored with home healthcare agency owner Sharon Stanford. In this new book, the women provide insightful perspectives on scenarios and solutions for navigating aging and caregiving.
What was the inspiration for writing The Quiet Shift?
I began my career in 1991, and during the first decade, my focus was on wealth accumulation. Since I was a little girl growing up in a marginalized community, I observed people.
The more I began to learn about money, I would attribute success to the elderly husband and wife who owned a home, vacationed regularly, drove nice cars, and appeared to be generous in their giving. However, they would both die and leave their property to their children, and it would be lost or confiscated by the banks too many times to count. This alarming trend was devastating because I understood that the greatest asset in a family structure was not being passed from generation to generation.
It was at that time I began to focus on comprehensive financial planning, which included wealth accumulation and protection. I understood, as a financial planner, proper legacy planning was not being implemented.
However, the issue became a reality when my own mother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and she deteriorated quite rapidly. That first-hand experience of dealing with her end-of-life care resonated so profoundly that I wanted to prepare families for the unknown nuances that are associated with aging parents in the family and the impact it will have emotionally and economically.
The elderly couples I observed at the beginning of my career had taken the first step to create a legacy of wealth for their family, yet they were not advised on how to protect what they have accumulated and how to ultimately pass it on to their beneficiaries. I wanted to outline stories that would help families to see how important it is to have difficult conversations within the family that focused on helping elders age with dignity and how to ensure the entire family was familiar with the financial decisions that must be made for everyone.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Your strength shows as you help countless families. Let’s talk next about 9/11 and its profound impact on you, personally and professionally. Can you please explain?
I worked on the 73rd floor of 2 World Trade Center and was still in the building on the 44th floor when it was struck. After escaping, the first thing I understood very clearly was that life as I knew it would never be the same. The second thought in my mind was that the wealthy had a plan in place for unknown tragedies and traumatic experiences.
That realization changed the course of my life forever. Days after 9/11, as the death toll continued to rise, I began to think about my own family dynamics. I was a wife, a mother of two young children, blessed to have a home with a mortgage, and I was living the American dream. But what would have happened if I didn’t make it home on that fateful day? Would my family be well provided for?
You see, the reality is that we work hard to provide a quality standard of living when we are able-bodied. However, when faced with tragedy, how does a family respond? This new reality caused me to shift my business practice to focus on educating families regarding the need to have a holistic, comprehensive plan for their families that addressed the questions that most do not consider-what if?
I’m thankful you are safe. You inspire, using your 9/11 experience to refine your purpose. What role does service play in your life?
After the tragedy of 9/11, I felt guilty for living, yet I could not change history. I had to do something. I refused to merely exist in this world without impacting another life in some meaningful, substantive way.
So, what did I have to offer? I had my vocational expertise, and I had my experience to share. I began my service teaching economic justice and financial literacy in the church, in the schools, and in the prison. I needed the people to know how important it was to have a plan in place when the unknown, the unexpected, and the devastating tragedies happened.
I wanted to bring information to marginalized and oppressed communities. I wanted to make certain that those communities understood it is easier to recover emotionally, spiritually, and economically after enduring a catastrophic or traumatic event if you have a blueprint to operate from.
Your dedication to service is commendable. What would you say to families where parents are reluctant to give their children the necessary information about their health and finances?
First, I would advise the families to buy the book. Seriously speaking, the best approach is to be clear and direct. I have found it most beneficial to address these areas of concern as caregivers when the caregiver is working on their own financial planning. When an adult child who is placing things for their children’s sake, it serves as a perfect opportunity to ask their parents the critical questions being asked of them as they plan.
A second approach is when there is a commonly known friend or associate enduring the challenges of aging parents. There is a moment when a child can ask their parents questions while correlating their concerns with that third party. Simply addressing what someone else is going through is a helpful way to make the discussion more personal.
Finally, be persistent. While the conversations may be difficult and uncomfortable, the reality is that things will be far worse without mutual engagement. If you recognize that you will become the de-facto primary caregiver, you must insist on getting buy-in from your parents regarding how they desire care and what resources they have allotted to meet those needs.
Statistics state that family members bear the brunt of long-term care for their elders. How can it impact the caregiver?
Family members tasked with the responsibility of caring for aging parents have three potential vulnerabilities at minimum. The first is the uncalculated impact on the caregiver’s potential earnings, especially if they are in a professional career. Extended absences and loss of work hours due to providing care can cause the caregiver to miss out on advancement opportunities, especially if the career path requires networking and being available for various opportunities.
A caregiver, if they are parents themselves, may struggle with time management and providing sufficient time to their own families, enjoying the perks that are associated with raising children. A third vulnerability is that a caregiver can oftentimes be stretched so thin, their own physical and mental health can be detrimentally affected. One must know their own limitations and set boundaries so that they do not ignore self-care.
How can a family assess where they stand emotionally and financially today?
Every family can begin to assess where they stand emotionally and financially by first determining where they desire to be. You cannot address success or failure without the ability to measure it against something.
How do you envision retirement? Where would you like to reside as you age? What are your expectations of your loved ones?
Those are a few simple questions to answer to establish a starting point for assessment. Each response has a financial impact.
If you desire to live independently, what resources should you have in place to ensure that is a possibility? If you are seeking the support of extended family, it would be beneficial to have the conversation and make certain your desires are clearly written. Once you have an idea about your desired quality of life as you age, you can then work towards becoming financially capable of achieving those stated objectives.
Well said. How does The Quiet Shift relate to legacy planning?
Simply put, legacy planning deals with the distribution of one’s assets upon their death. It is oftentimes used interchangeably with estate planning. I would add that the legacy component defines how you desire to be remembered, whether it’s within your family or in association with a purpose or cause.
What I have observed during my 30 years of being in the securities industry is when people focus solely on wealth accumulation and not protection, a devastating event, illness, or unforeseen circumstance can deplete one’s assets. The Quiet Shift is relative because aging in the family is a part of life. People are living longer but aren’t the healthiest.
In the United States, long-term care is the responsibility of the family, not the government. If you do not take aging and its economic cost into consideration, you will find that one elderly parent or one unanticipated illness can rapidly deplete an estate leaving a family in financial ruins and incapable of transferring assets to the next generation as one originally intended.
Who do you believe would benefit the most from reading The Quiet Shift, and why?
I believe there are three generations who will benefit most from reading The Quiet Shift. The baby boomer generation because we are poised as a society to see the greatest wealth transfer from their generation-to-Generation X if the assets can be protected and preserved through proper planning.
Generation Xers will benefit both as the recipients of that wealth transfer but also because their own personal wealth accumulation plan can be detrimentally impacted if they are faced with having to become a caregiver. The stories written in The Quiet Shift will allow the readers to see themselves and become proactive.
Finally, I believe the millennials would benefit as well because they are the ones impacted by the potential lack of emotional support of their parents as their parents are torn between caring for their aging parents and their children, the millennials. In writing this book, I spoke candidly with my own children, who saw firsthand my engagement with my mother during the final months of her life, and they were significantly impacted.
They made every effort to minimize the pressure I experienced, so it really became a shared family responsibility to care for my mother. To care for an aging parent in the family, life becomes much easier to navigate when there are shared responsibilities.
Thank you for being here, Dr. Nicole B. Simpson, CFP®
Dr. Nicole B. Simpson co-authored the book The Quiet Shift with Sharon Stanford, owner of the home healthcare agency Stanford Angels LLC. Together, these women are a powerhouse team that provides a roadmap for families during a difficult process, at whatever step the family is in this process.
Get your copy of The Quiet Shift
Growing older is part of life, but how do you navigate the impact of your aging parents, from emotions to finances, while preserving the relationship? The Quiet Shift by Dr. Nicole B. Simpson, CFP®, is a helpful guide for this express purpose.
Get The Quiet Shift on Amazon today. It is available in paperback, eBook, and Audible audiobook.
Connect further with Dr. Nicole B. Simpson, CFP®
Learn more about her career, her book, and more at the self-titled website Nicole B. Simpson. Reach her through the Contact page there.
Dr. Simpson is currently available for booking for live and virtual events, and all inquiries can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 377-2024.
Top photo: Meet Nicole B. Simpson. Photo credit: Orion Photography.