Q&A with Yi-Hsian Godrey, CEO of Apiari

How do you plan for your needs during retirement, from the expected to the “I hope this never happens to me”? We recently sat down with Yi-Hsian (pronounced “E-Schwan”) Godfrey, CEO and co-founder of Apiari, to find out.

Apiari is an online platform that matches people needing household services, from cooking and cleaning to newborn and eldercare, with fully vetted and experienced in-home care providers, so Yi-Hsian knows the world of care planning inside out. Here’s what we learned.

What is care planning?

When we talk about care planning, we’re taking into account all aspects of the care we’ll need throughout our lives. This means anticipating expected needs such as maintaining a home, as well as considering the “what if?” scenarios, like needing emergency surgery or dealing with the sudden illness of oneself or a loved one.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when care planning?

Many people have considered their long-term care and solutions. They have investment plans in place to cover the cost of assisted living through a nursing home or home health aide should the need arise. But what about near-term care? People are often blindsided by these responsibilities. The fact is, care is a continuum, and people will need many types of in-home help before they ever step into a nursing home. This might be having someone shovel their driveway, rake the leaves, do the dishes, cook them dinner, and more.

What are the most important factors people should keep in mind when care planning?

People often forget that care isn’t just for them; it’s also for their families, loved ones, and pets. For example, according to an article in  The Atlantic , roughly 2.6 million grandparents in the United States are raising their grandchildren. This is not a new trend; the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau found that 2.4 million grandparents were raising their grandchildren. What’s startling is the increased number of grandparents raising grandchildren since 2000.

Seniors have other responsibilities to their loved ones as well. With the average age of marriage climbing (currently 27.6 for women and 29.5 for men in the United States) and more and more adults returning to school and pursuing advanced degrees, retirees are providing support to their family members through many different avenues, which, in turn, means that they need support, too.

For example, a grandparent might be tasked with watching a grandchild or helping out around the house while his or her child is attending night classes. We’ve also seen seniors provide financial support, such as paying for night nurses for their daughters’ postpartum care. It can get to be a lot both physically and financially for retirees and those nearing retirement.

How much money should I set aside?

Just like with every savings plan, there’s no magic number or formula. Obviously, the more you have set aside, the better off you’ll be (and feel). I suggest using these general guidelines to think about how you’ll create and save for a care savings account:

  1. Make a list of all the care-related activities you may need to outsource at some point. These might include cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, pet care, grandchild care, transportation, and so on.
  2. Do a little research to figure out the cost of these services. You can find out from coworkers, friends, family members, or even looking online. If you can’t find exact figures, estimate spending between $15 (the minimum wage in many states) and $30 per hour for these types of services.
  3. When you’re planning, assume you’ll need these services every week. That probably won’t be the case; you may need someone to come over and cook every other week, clean monthly, and shovel your driveway only occasionally, but planning on a weekly schedule will give you a nice cushion to cover unexpected issues that may arise, as well as splurge a little to make sure you’re receiving the best care possible.

So, how do I start planning?

With lists and action! Those are my go-to remedies for planning.

Step #1

Jot down the tasks you’ll need completed, getting as specific as possible. For example, you might include cleaning out the pantry, dusting the bookcase, and taking out the trash.

Don’t forget to include the I-hope-this-never-happens scenarios, like needing emergency medical care for you or a loved one. Above all, you should be asking yourself the question, “Who would take on the tasks I normally do?”

Step #2

Think about that “who.” Who will be responsible for these tasks if you can’t do them yourself? Do you have a family member, friend, or neighbor who would do it? Or would you need to hire outside help? Write down your responses so you’ll have a plan in place now, including hiring someone for care if need be, to give you peace of mind later.

Step #3

Open a care savings account. Once you establish it, start setting aside money by direct-depositing a portion of your paycheck or making a recurring monthly bank account transfer. You’ll be glad you’ve planned ahead if you ever need unplanned care down the road.