What do you need to do to successfully age?
When people think about retirement they usually think about their savings plans or where they’re going to go now that they have so much free time. You hear people say all the time that they are going to spend time with their family or get some fishing in. You might hear them say that they are going to downsize or start a new business. (Here’s a list of retirement goals, no one achieves.) We don’t really know a good definition of successful aging yet but we do have some idea of what it means to fail at aging. Here are some things every retiree should think about and most do not.
- It’s hard to spend your savings when you’ve concentrated most of your adult life on accumulating it but that’s exactly what was meant to happen. You’ll need a strategy to keep from spending too much too fast. On the other end of the spectrum are the retirees who are so frightened they’ll overspend that they go too far and suffer financially when they don’t need to. You need to create a strategy. A financial advisor can help you create a budget and help you stick with it. One suggestion is to practice retirement, that is, try to actually live off your retirement income, to see if you can adequately adjust to your different financial position. You’ll need that money to last for the rest of your life and that probably means that you’ll continue to invest and save in order to stay ahead of inflation. Successful financial planning doesn’t prevent you from dying broke. It prevents you from living broke.
- This year we’ll celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid and while those programs have some justifiable boasting points there are things that you may not have considered. If you have spent most of your working life with a health care policy that allowed you to routinely see an eye doctor, dentist or hearing doctor, the fact is that Medicare won’t help you out with those. Nor will it cover much if any of any long-term care treatment you may need. To continue getting the health care help you’re likely to need as you age you’ll likely need to invest in additional medical and long-term care insurance. Without a company providing the research and investigation of those services for you, you’ll either need to hire someone to help you with that or you’ll need to learn to do the research yourself.
- A 40+ hour work week sucks up a lot of time. Not working provides people with an abundance of time but often no one to share it with if friends, spouses and previous co-workers are still members of the rat race. In addition, nearly half of all retirees live alone. Before you leave the workplace, put a plan into place to keep you from becoming bored or lonely. Perhaps no other group experiences loneliness to the degree of older adults. It’s a hard fact that friends are more likely to die when you are older than at any other time. If you’re not a joiner, find some way to get involved outside your home. Retirees watch more television than just about any other group and if you’ve seen day time television lately, it’s nothing to brag about. On the plus side, all that extra time does provide an opportunity to linger over a meal with friends or to take in a play, read a book or work on a home improvement project. Older people have the opportunity to play a significant role in fixing the real problems of this world if they quit thinking of themselves as “used up” and begin to see themselves as the people with the wisdom, skill and knowledge to play not just an active role in fixing our world but a leading role. Imagine the world we could see if people aren’t donating their spare time to a cause but rather the rest of their lives to it.
- If you’ve thought about moving south for the winter or to the South of France for the rest of your life, you should know that despite a lot of people’s intentions to the contrary, less than 6 percent of Americans moved to a new residence, 1 percent moved to another state and just .3 percent moved overseas according to the Census Bureau. It’s hard to move away from the people and places you are already familiar with. That’s not to say that you won’t move if that is your plan, just be prepared to fight the currents of inertia. If you do actually make the decision to go and then actually carry it out, you should understand how such a move will affect your retirement benefits.
Most Americans spend more time planning a vacation than they do their retirement but we are talking some serious time off when we talk about retirement. Have a plan in place and a sense of purpose or you’ll literally die of boredom.
Here’s some other words of wisdom about retirement.