As You Age, Keep Looking Forward
Many people spend a large portion of their lives taking care of people like their spouse, children, siblings and older parents. Here’s a message for those in their later senior years: Don’t stop now.
As we age, our concerns start to change. Some people may become preoccupied with ailments and difficulties in their living situations, and others gradually may stop taking care of themselves or their homes. Some of us start looking back instead of forward. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Certainly, every stage of life has its challenges and issues. From forging a career to buying a home, raising a family and juggling a myriad of financial priorities, each stage seems to bring a new focus to the foreground while others subside. During retirement, many people face health and financial challenges. We work with pre-retirees and retirees to help them develop a retirement income strategy, adjust the strategy if needed, and help address the challenges of making money last and leaving a legacy for family. Please let us know if we can help you with any or all of these stages.
It’s important to get much of your retirement and estate planning completed as early as possible. This planning includes documents like a basic will, durable power of attorney and health care proxy.1 You should work with an attorney to ensure all aspects of an estate plan are covered.
However, other pressing matters can create day-to-day concerns and stress. Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, conducted a study to find out what the biggest concerns are for those age 75 and up. She found they had less to do with completing a will and were more about how seniors would be able to live at home if they developed health issues.2
Dr. Lindquist also discovered that many older adults hadn’t made plans to address such concerns. As a result, she created a website, www.planyourlifespan.com, that helps seniors start talking and thinking about their future by prompting them to address such questions as:
“Who will take care of my dog if I am hospitalized?”
“Who will shovel our sidewalk and driveway when it snows?”
“Who will go to the pharmacy now that I can no longer drive?” 3
It helps to have a strong support system to deal with these types of practicalities. If you don’t live with or near family or friends who have the time to help, perhaps it’s worth considering exploring community resources for transportation, errands, meals and household help, or moving into a senior community.
One of the keys to successful aging is letting other people know what you want or need. While many seniors don’t wish to burden their children, they may be surprised to learn their children want to talk about these issues. Knowing your wishes in advance can reassure them that they are doing the right thing if they need to make decisions for you at some point.4
Another issue older seniors confront is a feeling of no longer being able to contribute to the lives of loved ones or their community. It’s important for seniors of all ages to reflect on their personal strengths and find ways to continue to contribute. For example, retirees who have enjoyed cooking throughout their lives should continue to do so; find friends and neighbors with whom to share meals and baked goods. Moreover, tell children and grandchildren first-person life stories and the lessons learned. It is important not just for seniors but also for societies to benefit from the resilience, wisdom and experience of the elder population.5
Many of the oldest of the elderly may be able to continue their lifelong love of taking care of someone — a pet. Dogs make wonderful companions and encourage exercise with daily walks. Less mobile retirees may benefit from the quirky affection of an independent cat. Pet/retiree relationships are truly symbiotic: Both enjoy immense quality of life in the company of each other.6
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 National Institute on Aging. “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” May 2, 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/getting-your-affairs-order#important-papers. Accessed May 9, 2017.
2 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 9, 2017. “A Playbook for Managing Problems in the Last Chapter of Your Life.” http://khn.org/news/a-playbook-for-managing-problems-in-the-last-chapter-of-your-life/. Accessed April 18, 2017.
4 PlanYourLifespan.org. 2015. “Why Should I Talk With Others?” http://www.planyourlifespan.org/step/talk/why/intro?s=d313940ba9e44ef934baedfcfc163adf. Accessed April 18, 2017.
5 David Boyd Williams. 3BL Media. April 13, 2017. “Quality of Life Is Not One Size Fits All When It Comes to Experienced Adults.” http://3blmedia.com/News/Quality-Life-Not-One-Size-Fits-All-When-it-Comes-Experienced-Adults. Accessed April 18, 2017.
6 Saffron Alexander. The Telegraph. March 2, 2016. “Why Getting a Pet in Retirement Might Just Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/living/why-getting-a-pet-in-retirement-might-just-be-the-best-thing-you/. Accessed April 18, 2017.
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.
The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.