As we age, most of us imagine remaining healthy and independent until our time on this Earth is over. But we all know that life will throw us curveballs, and the other we get, the more impact those curveballs can have. The reality of aging is that our needs will change – sometimes in unexpected ways – and to have the quality of life we desire as we age, we need to have a vision and set goals to make that vision a reality. In other words, when it comes to making a plan for aging, procrastination can have life-altering consequences.
Many Gen Xers and even some Millennials are in the position of raising children while also helping their aging parents secure a quality lifestyle after retirement. If your own parents didn’t plan ahead for aging, this might be a good time to help them make some important decisions – and to plan ahead for your own future.
Planning for Aging & Retirement:
The list below is a great starting point for thinking about how you—and your aging parents—can organize expectations and manage change through generational shifts. An honest assessment of medical, financial, and personal needs as you age is critical in achieving a long and satisfying retirement.
Talk these things over with your parents, and then consider them in reference to your own future:
Income as You Age:
After retirement, where is your income coming from?
- Social Security
- Insurance and Annuities
- Retirement Accounts
Housing after Retirement
Do you plan on staying in your current home for the foreseeable future? If yes, consider what modifications and assistance should be in place to accommodate your needs. If not, explore your options:
- Consider multi-generational living and how will it function for all generations in one home
- Research Continuing Care Retirement Communities
- Stair-step a drastic move by downsizing to an apartment in a pedestrian-friendly area.
The cost and availability of housing options can vary widely by geographic location, as can the cost of Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Don’t make assumptions about costs and availability. Instead, do your research early so that you can be prepared when it is time to make a decision.
Personal Care When Aging:
The need for personal care can make us all feel vulnerable, especially when it comes to relying on others for help. Review what you are and are not comfortable with.
For aging parents, consider:
- Who will take care of you when you can no longer care for yourself?
- Can you afford to pay for care in your home?
- Is Long Term Care (LTC) insurance an appropriate choice for you? If you own an LTC policy do you understand what the qualifications are to receive benefits and how long you will receive that cash flow?
- What are comfortable doing for an aging parent? Are there things you wouldn’t be comfortable doing?
- If you have adult children, will they help as well/
- If you plan to be the caretaker, have you made plans for your own self-care?
Mobility as You Age:
Driving can feel like a lifeline. Even if you need wheelchair assistance, you may still be able to drive your car. There may come a day, however, when the keys are taken away. you’ll need to consider:
- What are your plans for transportation when you no longer drive?
- Many retirement communities provide transportation, but if that is not in your plan how will you get around (as you must) and how much will it cost you?
- Is there a friend or a family member who can take you to the doctor, the dentist, the movies, and your favorite restaurant?
- What other transportation options are available in your area?
Depending on the complexity of an estate, legacy considerations can be simple or intensely complicated. Throw in generational challenges and things can get messy before you know it. A regular review of your and your parent’s estate documents can help clear up the gray area before anything is set in motion. This can alleviate unneeded tension. Consider the following:
- Are all of your estate documents in order and in a safe, accessible place?
- Does your executor know what their responsibilities are?
- Have you left clear instructions in regards to your personal items and end-of-life decisions?
- Have you reviewed all beneficiaries on your investment accounts?
- Are there charitable organizations that you would like to consider?
- Are the important people in your life aware that you have a plan in place?
Meaning & Purpose:
What activities and interests make your life enjoyable, satisfying, and interesting? How will you continue to remain engaged in those activities and interests as you age? As you research Continuing Care Communities and/or relocating, ask if the things you love to do—yoga, bird watching, live music, book groups—are available in the area.
Discuss a Plan for Aging in a Family Meeting
In making a plan for aging, it is important to include your loved ones in a dialogue about your wishes. If your parents are aging, ask them to sit down with you to go over these considerations. Listen, take notes, and offer your suggestions. The more you know, the more comfortable their retirement can be, and the less stressful their aging will be for you.
Similarly, sit down with your own spouse or trusted family member to discuss your own plans. It’s best to start thinking about these things well before you hit retirement.
Planning for Life Transitions is Empowering
Yes, planning for big life transitions can be emotionally challenging, but it is also empowering. In many conversations with aging clients, we’ve learned that it can take time to come to terms with the changes in circumstances that come with aging. For some, life circumstances can cause that change to occur rapidly. Whether the conversation begins with family, your financial advisor, your best friend, or all of the above, it is necessary to start and keep talking, as this will not be a “one and done” conversation. So get started—update your financial plan to include your quality of life preferences.
Ready to get started? Get in touch, we’re here to help you plan now and live now.