Turning 65 hardly seems like becoming “elderly” nowadays. In the U.S., the average life expectancy at age 65 is 20.6 years for women and 18 for men. But, that’s only the average so many people could live 30 years after turning 65. Our increasing life expectancies are changing the dynamics around retirement, finances, health, and more. Society and governments face related dilemmas around workforce, pensions, caregiving and healthcare.
When you turn 65, how do you picture the next 30 years? How do you plan to find fulfillment in retirement? Or, do you intend to (or need to) work as long as possible? And, do you imagine being active…taking care of grandkids, enjoying the outdoors, traveling? If you’re like many 65-year-olds, you probably do and you certainly can. But, if you’re already experiencing ill health or lots of aches and pains it might not turn out as you hope.
While it might be easy to articulate how we picture these years, too few people focus on making it happen. Unfortunately, the reality is that aging can be challenging. And, without taking an active role, your “plans” may be derailed. Just picturing what you want isn’t enough. It’s time to make a plan so the next 30 years can fit the picture you have in your head.
Aging Wisely: Key Areas for Planning for the Life You Want
Address important aspects of aging before turning 65. The simplest approach to this is to meet with an aging life care manager. He/she can review these areas, provide realistic advice, point out current planning gaps and help you with resources and planning. Here are a few key needs you should address:
It’s time to look at your current health status and risk factors. If you haven’t been keeping up with preventative healthcare, the good news is Medicare covers much of it fully. Get your “Welcome to Medicare” physical. This provides a baseline to create a health plan. A care manager can also help you organize your health records to get the most out of your care. You may feel fine, or not “want to know” about anything bad. But, health is the #1 factor in quality of life. So, if you want to enjoy life post 65, don’t ignore it. You can still make small lifestyle changes that could have a big impact.
Staying fit is another key aspect of aging wisely. If your goal is to live out your days as independently as possible, strength, flexibility and balance will help you do so. Plus, you’ve got to be fit to keep up with those grandkids and complete your bucket list! Our team can provide you with lots of local resources and evaluate your areas of need. We also have some great tips online:
Do you love your home? Intend to live out your days there? Great, we’re all for that. But, have you taken a look at your home to make sure it will age well with you? Or, is your dream home actually a danger zone? Falls are the #1 cause of injury for 65+ year-olds. Most of these happen at home.
A care manager can do a home evaluation to make sure your home is “aging-in-place” friendly. This doesn’t have to mean a major remodel. Often, a few minor modifications or reorganizing makes all the difference. In-home services and tech resources can also support you in your happy, healthy home.
Get your free copy of our Aging in Place Checklist to learn more about creating a "home, safe home": Click Here
Care Needs (Long Term Care)
Did you think death was the most avoided topic? In our experience more people have done funeral planning (you should do this too) than long-term care (LTC) planning. No one ever wants to think they might need help. Let’s assume you never will. You also probably didn't want to think about your family using your life insurance when you were young or having a car wreck or home disaster. But, you took responsibility to protect yourself, your family and your assets.
Think of long term care the same way. More so, because long term care can have a huge impact on how YOU live your latter years. Without planning, your options may be limited. Unfortunately, it’s the person who thought it would never happen to them who ends up “thrown in a nursing home”. But, you don’t need to figure out all the gory details of LTC planning. Let an experienced care manager be your guide, so you don’t have to worry.
Administration: Financial, Legal and Practical
Get a checkup on your financial and legal health. Have you executed the necessary legal documents (including a durable power of attorney, healthcare surrogate/POA, living will, will/trust)? Here’s a little more information from our patient advocates about healthcare decision making. You should also read up on how to choose a health care surrogate/proxy. We can review this with you during a consultation to make sure you’ve designated the right person, discussed key issues to prepare them and provided the tools they need.
We know these aren’t pleasant discussions, but don’t avoid them. The results can be much more than unpleasant.
Financial planning shouldn’t wait until turning 65, but it’s a good time to evaluate where things stand. Ideally, your professional advisors will work together to make all these puzzle pieces fit into what you desire.
Beyond the documents and numbers, think through the practicalities. Or, better yet, talk through them with an experienced professional. When appointing a person to handle your healthcare needs (your healthcare surrogate/POA), understand what’s involved. That can become a 24/7 position. The person will be responsible for (quality of) life and death decisions.
Professionals even have challenges navigating the healthcare system, so it’s not a minor responsibility. Talk through who is best for the job (and talk WITH them). Find out about the support resources available to them. They don’t need to do it alone. A professional patient advocate can be their partner in helping you.