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CIEPS/ELDER PLANNING COUNSELOR (EPC) MODULE CURRICULUM

PLEASE NOTE – Although this material makes reference to the financial advising profession, the EPC Designation program is structured for any individual or profession who is working with our aging society.

When we make reference to any statistics or facts in the materials, we use the most recent information available at the time that the current edition goes to print.  For example, any facts that are referenced from Statistics Canada, are the most recent available due to their most recent surveys and research.

The 2021 - 11th Edition EPC Designation program is based on the following 4 Module Desk Reference Set material covering the following curriculum:

MODULE 1 OVERVIEW – Aging & Health Issues 

1. Situation Critical – Our population is Aging
2. Principles, Progression & Effects of Aging
3. Understanding Chronic Conditions 
4. Dementia & Our Aging Society
5. Nutrition & Fitness 

Chapter 1 – Situation Critical – Our Population is Aging! 

This chapter focuses on our changing society. To do this, it is necessary to review demographics and other significant factors that have contributed directly to Canada’s aging society. 

The EPC will learn about elders in respect of their needs, wants, and concerns. This newly acquired knowledge will assist the professional in planning for the future. 

The EPC will be required to understand life cycle changes and various factors and situations that an elder experience while going through life.  Each change in life means a new insurance opportunity for the advisor.

The EPC will study how such factors as age, gender, race, and ethnic background greatly influence elder behaviours and attitudes when interacting with professionals.    

If the advisor knows about future trends, then they can structure their financial planning processes to assist the client or prospect in meeting their needs.  This will allow for many opportunities for the advisor to market the insurance products that they are licensed to sell.

Chapter 2 – Principles, Progressions & the Effects of Aging 

The main goal for the EPC is to become acquainted with the physical, social, and psychological aspects of aging, along with any challenges that are created by age-related changes in the human body.

By understanding the age-related and non-age-related changes and challenges, an EPC is better qualified to professionally serve the elder client or prospect. By working together with the elder, their best needs are met when determining which financial plan or product to offer  

Chapter 3 – Understanding Chronic Conditions in Elders 

The EPC will witness the full implications that chronic conditions will have on the elder and their families. They will also study how severe illnesses can alter the elder’s lifestyle and their ability to maintain a fully self-sufficient life. 

In addition, the EPC should be familiar with the members of the elder’s health care team, and, in addition, what each of those individual’s responsibilities are. Although this chapter uses many medical terms and situations, it is not necessary for the EPC to have the same knowledge as a medical doctor. Remember that one not in the medical profession, should not suggest any medical advice to a client or prospect. 

Knowing the symptoms and having the awareness of some of the medical conditions and ailments that take their toll on our aging society could greatly enhance the way in which the EPC interacts and carries on business with an elder.  

Knowing this information and how to convey it can lead to offering insurance products such as Long-Term Care and Critical Illness to the advisors’ clients and prospects. 

Chapter 4 – Dementia & Our Aging Society 

The EPC will be in a better position to understand and recognize the various kinds of dementia, especially Alzheimer Disease (AD). As there are many implications of dementia, the student should know how it pertains to their work with elders and their families. 

When the EPC student concludes this chapter, they will be able to define dementia, explain some of the causes of dementia, and describe some of the different types of dementia. They will have acquired knowledge about Alzheimer Disease. They will also be versed in the planning and management of dementia and be comfortable dealing with the various caregiving issues surrounding it. 

When an advisor knows this information, it can lead to offering various insurance products to their advisors’ clients and prospects. 

Chapter 5 – Nutrition and Fitness 

Upon completion of this chapter, the EPC will be more familiar with nutrition, healthful lifestyle, and longevity in relation to elders. Factors that contribute to an unhealthy life and shorter lifespan will also be discussed to further explain, and emphasize, the importance of health as we age.  

The EPC will gain insight into the overall process of aging by considering the human body and the elements that affect it over time. Having a foundation of information with which to assess an elder’s health profile, the EPC will be able to recognize areas requiring attention and suggest possible lifestyle changes in relation to nutrition and fitness. 

With awareness to the fact that a healthful lifestyle can both prevent and improve the impact of age-related conditions, the EPC will be able to help themselves, and others, to live better. 

Understanding the role nutrition and fitness play in preventing such conditions as Alzheimer disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and others, is the key in making life-changing choices for health. 

Students will cover aging theories, anti-aging strategies, nutrition, digestion, causes of poor nutrition, elder nutritional requirements, how to determine elder health, supplements, diet and disease, exercise, and fitness.  

Leading a healthy lifestyle can lead to preferential insurance rates when it comes to Life & Accident Insurance products that the advisor can offer. 

MODULE 2 OVERVIEW – Social and Psychological Issues for Elders 

1. Long Term Care Issues 
2. Housing Options
3. Caregiving in Canada
4. End-Of-Life Planning Issues
5. Funeral Planning Bereavement – Grief and the Healing Process

Chapter 1 – Long Term Care Issues

It is common knowledge that taking care of one’s self financially for long term care in the future is a major issue. Our aging elders are no different in this regard. Course attendees will be in a better position to provide advice to the elders they interact with when dealing with the various risks that are, and will be, associated with their change in independent status.

The four areas that the EPC will study are: 

  • WHY Long-Term care is such an issue, now and in the future.

  • HOW is society going to fund their Long-Term care when the need arises? 

  • WHAT is the role of Long-Term Care insurance in an aging society?   

Upon completion of this chapter, the advisor will be aware of the opportunities that await their clients and prospects such as Long-Term Care products. 

Chapter 2 – Housing Options  

The EPC will be in a better position to describe the many housing options that are available for the elder. The EPC, when faced with helping the elder, can help recommend the proper alternative based on the elder’s needs and wants.  

The EPC should become familiar with the fact that as people age, their health begins to deteriorate. When this happens, the need to find suitable housing or living arrangements becomes evident. Either making changes to their existing home or looking for a new dwelling could fill this need. A nursing home could also be the solution. The EPC will learn what to look for when the elder or their family chooses an assisted living or nursing home. 

This chapter will walk the EPC through the various stages of why elders want to stay in their own homes. The decision to relocate can be a traumatic one, increasing the need for support from many different areas. 

The EPC will look at the various types of housing arrangements available to the elder today. Some different types of government assistance programs will be discussed to offer alternatives to the funding process.  

Knowing this information will allow the advisor to have the conversation about Long-Term or Nursing home insurance coverages for their clients and prospects. 

Chapter 3 – Caregiving in Canada 

All EPC’s should become familiar with the many types of caregiving resources available. They should understand many of the hurdles that our elders face, as informal caregivers meet their continuing need for assistance from many avenues. 

The students will look at and review the many issues surrounding caregiving. Some of the topics covered will deal with what is required to be a caregiver, how to be a good caregiver, and what the difficulties and demands of caregiving really entail. The many phases and duties of providing care to a recipient will be addressed. Caregiving stress and elder abuse issues will be discussed in detail. 

With any position, one must be aware of the satisfaction that comes with knowing that the job was done right. To this extent, the EPC will also become aware of the rewards that accompany caregiving. 

This chapter can lead to a natural conversation starter for the client and prospect, as the advisor can provide information on how CRA looks at the caregiver and what type of benefits they can receive.  There may also be benefits available from the client’s employer that they were not aware of. 

Chapter 4 – End-Of-Life Planning Issues for the Elder 

As professionals, EPC’s should become familiar with the major issues that a critically ill elder is facing. It is not necessary to be fully conversant with these issues, but rather to know where to refer the elder and their family for any further legal information pertaining to their choice or choices. If the elder cannot speak for himself, then who will look after his desires? Will it be the EPC? Will it be the elder’s family?  

The EPC will look at healthcare and family issues as people near death. They will look at the quality of life that can lead the elder and their families to make crucial decisions. Hospice and palliative care play an important role in the aging process. As such, you will be required to know the basic information about each and how they can enhance an elder’s final time on this earth. The EPC will look at the planning issues beyond the legal and medical procedures to meet their elder client’s needs and wishes.  

One of the key planning issues when a family is faced with an end-of-life situation is the need for the advisor to review any financial benefits that the individual has or is entitled to.  This is another way of providing service while assisting the family. 

Chapter 5 – Funeral Planning 

The EPC will become familiar with the various options when advising elder clients about funeral home choices. The main point in this chapter is to know where to go when it comes time to plan for the final journey. 

Upon completion of this chapter, the EPC will be able to provide an overview regarding the offerings that a funeral home can provide to the individual, either before or after death.

The EPC will also know what type of assistance is available to assist the elderly when the time comes to look at planning a funeral. This chapter is a definite lead in for the advisor to discuss “funeral” insurance products. 

Chapter 6 – Bereavement – Grief and the Healing Process 

People all experience and deal with changes and losses in their lives every day. This is a natural part of being. As you get older, the chances of losing things in your life are very real. The EPC will study and learn how to help elders who are going through various stages of the grieving process because of the aging process, and the fact that someday everyone must experience grief.

This chapter will prepare the EPC for dealing with loss and grief with the elder and their family. All the variables will be studied with the intent of providing an overview on how to adjust for the healing process. 

The EPC will learn about the experience of loss. They will look at the total grieving process and study the five stages that humans go through after a loss has occurred.  

As the EPC finds their way through this chapter on grief experiences, they will discover that there is no right or wrong way to do the work of mourning. There is only the individual’s way, and they must discover it for themselves. 

There is no magic formula, no short cut, and no easy way out. Grief is as if the person is inside a long, winding tunnel whose entrance is closed behind them, and the only way out is to head through it and out the other side.  

A thorough study of this chapter will better enable the EPC to provide effective interaction with their grieving elder clients and families.  

We all know that when a death happens, there might be an extended period where an individual does not continue working for a period etc.  If this is the case, the advisor can assist the client with the proper order of using any RRSP or non-registered investments that were set up for the person.  

“Grief will make a new person out of you, if it doesn't kill you in the making." A quote by Stephanie Ericsson, Companion through the Darkness.

MODULE 3 OVERVIEW – Financial Issues

1. Social Security & Medicare Programs
2. Retirement Planning & Investing
3. Generating Retirement Income
4. Legacy Planning
5. Travelling or Moving Abroad
6. Income Tax Planning

Chapter 1 – Social Security & Medicare Programs 

Approximately one half of the income of Canadians age 65 and over comes from Old Age Security and Canada or Quebec Pension plan benefits.  A solid understanding of these programs is beneficial to anyone who works closely with elder Canadians.  

Maintaining their health is the number one priority for many Canadian elders.  As a result, no other group has a greater interest in the sustainability of Canada's publicly funded health care system.  This chapter is designed to provide you with an overview of the system with attention paid to some of the challenges facing publicly funded Medicare.

Upon completion of this chapter, the advisor will be in a better position to offer supplement programs to their clients and prospects to offset and add to any Gov’t benefits that they will or are receiving now and in the future. 

Chapter 2 – Retirement Planning & Investing

A long and fruitful retirement is not just the product of good health - careful financial planning is also necessary. Making the right investments; managing debt; making the income tax system work in your favour; and ensuring that appropriate insurance coverage is in place are all a part of the mix.  

Inevitable cutbacks in government programs combined with increasing longevity make financial planning - at a personal level - increasingly important. Unfortunately, many elders and pre-elders have very limited understanding of the most basic of financial planning principles - and even more have simply failed to plan.  

For anyone interested in elder issues, this represents a wonderful opportunity to provide assistance and add value. 

In addition, the advisor will be able to further enhance the clients and prospects retirement planning process by suggestion products to provide future income. 

Chapter 3 – Generating Retirement Income

There was a time when many Canadians retired right at age 65—whether they wanted to or not. It was a full-stop kind of retirement: you worked for the same company for most of your career, they threw you a party on your last day, and the next morning you woke up to a life of hobbies and doting on grandkids. Government benefits and traditional employer pensions kicked in immediately and they were often enough to take care of you, even if you had no other savings.

For most Canadians the above version of retirement is pretty much dead. 

Defined benefit pension plans are dying out, except in the public sector. And the government is starting to scale back seniors’ benefits such as Old Age Security, which will eventually start at age 67 instead of 65. Increasingly, retirement income will depend on how much a person has saved and how he manages his own money.

Unfortunately, just as Canadians are being forced to rely on their own resources in retirement, they are being hit with low interest rates and uncertain stock markets. All this helps to make retirement more precarious.

The primary focus of the previous chapter was on how to accumulate wealth for retirement purposes. In this chapter we turn our attention to the various sources of retirement income and how they can be effectively managed.

Upon completion of this chapter, the advisor can discuss RRSP, RRIF, LLIFs, Employee Pension plans etc. to provide retirement income for the client or prospect.

Chapter 4 – Legacy Planning 

A key principle in legacy planning is that you cannot eliminate the big mistakes in an estate plan until you have identified them. Every elder should stage a financial fire drill with the assistance of the Elder Planning Counselor community. The same caution should be exercised with estate planning as with financial planning—if you are not a financial services professional, work with someone who is, or stay away from this area completely. 

This chapter will investigate the process of planning the accumulation, conservation, and distribution of an estate in the manner that most efficiently and effectively accomplishes the elder’s personal tax and non-tax objectives. 

Upon completing this chapter, the EPC will acquire the ability to gather accurate, comprehensive, and useful information that is efficiently developed using a data gathering system. 

The EPC will study the major areas of estate planning such as: lack of liquidity, improper disposition of assets, inflation, inadequate income, or capital at retirement / death / disability, stabilization and maximization of the value of assets, excessive transfer costs, and special problems. 

This chapter is a natural lead in for the advisor to provide their Estate Planning processes and suite of products to fulfil these needs. 

Chapter 5 – Travelling or Moving Abroad 

Canadians comprise a mobile society. They look for travel experiences; adventure, warmer climates, employment opportunities and a sunny retirement in areas they perceive have a lower cost of living. Some decide to move out of the country to avoid, or at least reduce, the amount of income tax they pay. Others find out that they have become residents of another country by accident, facing substantial tax costs. 

Many Canadian elders spend time out of the country, particularly in the United States, during the winter months. These snowbirds may plan on moving to the U.S. permanently, or look forward to spending certain months of the year south of the border as an integral part of their retirement plans and lifestyle. In either case, their time spent in the USA may cause them to be deemed as residents of the U.S. for income tax, estate tax, or both.  

Conversely, they may no longer be deemed to be residents of Canada, and put at risk government benefits, income tax breaks, deductions, and credits. Those wanting to take advantage of lower income tax rates in another country may find that the CRA still considers them to be residents of Canada for income tax purposes. In a worst-case scenario, they may be deemed to be residents of both countries.  

Many advisors working with elders do not ask or adequately consider the impact on plans, programs, and lifestyles for elders retiring or spending retirement time in the USA Elders, and the advisors working with them, owe it to themselves to be cognizant of the ramifications of being deemed a US resident. They should also be aware of the similarities and differences in the issues, options, and benefits discussed in previous chapters affecting Elders.  

Though Canadians may spend a lot of retirement time in other countries, this chapter will focus on some of the major topics as they relate to time spent in the US. 

Upon completion of this chapter, the advisor can discuss Travel insurance products, financial planning and estate planning products to cover any Estate planning issues that come up. 

Chapter 6 – Income Tax Planning

The objective for the EPC in personal income tax planning is to minimize or defer income tax payable for the elder. This requires a general understanding of Canada’s Income Tax Act, and rulings put forth by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), along with other events, such as tax rulings in the courts. 

The EPC will be able to recommend various tax saving strategies that will keep the elder’s goals front and centre, thereby maximizing any spendable income. 

Again, for this chapter, caution should be exercised. If you are not in a profession that will allow you to provide complete and accurate tax information, please let the experts handle it. 

Upon completion of this segment, the EPC will be able to understand which income sources constitute earned income, and which ones do not. You will study tax deductions and tax credits, and how they will affect your clients’ and prospects’ net income.

This chapter will look at how indexing can affect an individual’s tax situation. You will be able to tell the difference between being an employee of a company and being self-employed.

The complex taxation of Life Insurance will be studied in a way that makes it simple to understand. 

The advisor will have a working knowledge of Capital Gains, Capital Losses, Deductions, Credits and other various terminologies pertaining to taxation. This will all lead into the advisor discussing their life insurance products to cover any taxation issues. 

MODULE 4 OVERVIEW – Communication & Other Timely Issues 

1. The Social Aspects of Aging
2. Communicating with Elders
3. Marketing to Elders
4. Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation
5. Elders and Ethics
6. Putting It All into Perspective  

Chapter 1 – The Social Aspects of Aging 

The EPC will learn and describe how the various age cohorts will play a major part in the future shaping of Canada’s aging population, by affecting the social and economic experiences of the elder that will shape how Canada ages. 

The EPC will work more effectively with their elder clients and prospects by using the knowledge that they have acquired in their study of Gerontology, Aging Theories, Family Structures, Changes and Losses in Later Life, and Future Challenges. 

This is a natural lead in for the advisor to discuss the various family dynamics that can lead to the present and future need for insurance and investment products of all types. 

Chapter 2 – Communicating with Elders 

This chapter will assist you in developing communications that will resonate with the elder market.  Elders are unique.  They think differently than younger adults.  They face a variety of emotional, social and sensory challenges.  And they're more difficult to communicate with - on a whole variety of fronts.  

The following material will give you a lot of perspective on the many challenges associated with communicating with elders … as well as some of the most effective strategies and approaches that can be employed to reach them.

Best of all, all of the evidence seems to suggest that communications that are designed to effectively capture the attention of the elder market - will work well with anyone.  Good elder communication strategies are simply … good communication strategies.  Once you've hit the mark in the elder market, there is no need to reinvent the wheel elsewhere.

Getting better at communicating with elders will make the advisor a better all-around communicator. They will be able to present complex ideas in words and sentences that the clients and prospects understand. 

Chapter 3 – Marketing to Elders 

This chapter will be of significant interest to anyone who wants to "connect" with elders in a meaningful way - whether it be for commercial purposes or otherwise. 

While the elder population is clearly diverse, elders do share a set of common interests, outlooks and values.   This chapter focuses on these similarities and how they impact and colour the way in which elders react to information.  

Understanding how elders react to and process information is helpful to anyone who wants to deliver effective and compelling messages to this market segment. 

Upon completion of this chapter, the advisor will understand that the various products that they would market to a 35-year-old are not the same products that our aging society will purchase from them.   

Chapter 4 – Elder Fraud & Financial Exploitation 

When it comes to financial exploitation, an elder’s greatest enemy can be a family member, close friend, or trusted professional – the very people he or she should be able to count on. This chapter will give you a primer on how elders are exploited, who the perpetrators are, and how you can help to protect our elder population. 

Of course, elders can also fall prey to outsiders. Con artists like to focus their attention on the most vulnerable members of a society.  Elders who are isolated socially, who have financial challenges, or whose health is failing make excellent targets. This chapter will also provide you with a lot of information on elder fraud and some suggestions on how to defend against it. Often, the best defense an elder can have against fraud is to simply live by the following motto: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” 

This chapter and all that is covered is part of the due diligence process for advisors when it comes to serving aging clients and prospects. 

Chapter 5 – Elders and Ethics

This chapter will provide you with a broad overview on the origins of ethics – as well as some detailed discussions on such topics as ethical decision making, elder ethical issues and business ethics. 

Ethics and codes of ethics are largely concerned with protecting the weakest members of society. Without ethics and codes of ethics, it would be relatively easy for the strong and the able to take advantage of the poor, the disabled, the cognitively challenged - and the elderly!  For the elderly, a discussion of ethics is not merely an academic exercise - it is vital to their well-being. They need to know that the people they encounter with regularity (e.g., medical professionals, accountants, lawyers, salesmen, financial planners, etc.) are going to act with their best interests in mind.  

Currently of compliance and liability, this chapter will review what the advisor needs to do to remain compliant with their clients and prospects. 

Chapter 6 – Putting It All into Perspective 

The Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies (CIEPS) has endeavored to provide you, the student with some knowledge that will not only provide some invaluable insight into the elder population, but also enhance your relationship within your community and the people with whom you do business.  

The time that you have spent to achieve your Elder Planning Counselor designation will ultimately be part of your value-added proposition that you can pass on to the elders that you interact with.  

This designation is about people helping people. It is about helping you to proactively position your practices or businesses to make them even more ‘elder friendly.’ The EPC designation program that you have just completed has used some traditional approaches and strategies as we studied in our aging society, and the impact that it will have on our futures.   

Even with this said you have just begun an ongoing process—one that will require you to keep on top of changing times and future visions.  

Elders are different. They have a unique set of issues, concerns, and values that need to be understood and appreciated as a total package.  They also hold a special place in our society. 

They are an invaluable source of experience and knowledge for every younger generation.  And they are the heart of the family and the foundation of your communities.

Like any professional designation, this chapter will “Put into Perspective” what an advisor needs to do, and how to do it to maintain professionalism and follow a Code of Professional Conduct when interacting with their clients and prospects. 

ENROL

 

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