Longevity used to be a good thing. Maybe it still is, but the challenges of living a long life, maybe more than you had planned for, should be named and discussed – and the sooner the better for many of us.
We are an aging population, and as any baby Boomer will tell you, this generation wants to remain healthy, independent and in control. For many, however, the retirement of their dreams is not the retirement that life will deliver. Whether the challenge is medical, financial, or personal an evaluation of your preferences in the major areas of your life is required. An honest assessment of how you will manage and finance these wishes will be critical to achieving a long and satisfying retirement.
What are a few of life’s key quality issues and what are their financial implications?
Housing – Do you want to stay in your home? If yes, what modifications will be needed? If not, what are your options – family, retirement community, downsized apartment in a pedestrian friendly area? The cost of housing options can vary widely by geographic location as well as the community options you choose. Know the facts; don’t assume.
Personal Care options – Who will take care of you when you can no longer do this for yourself? Can you afford to pay for care in your home? Is Long Term Care insurance an appropriate choice for you? If you own a LTC policy do you understand what the qualifications are to receive benefits and how long will you receive that cash flow?
Mobility – Even if you need wheelchair assistance, you may still be able to drive your car. There comes the day, however, when the keys are taken away. 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 that cost? Is there a friend or 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?
What makes your life enjoyable, satisfying and interesting and how will you continue to remain engaged as you age? How will the concerns around Housing, Personal Care and Mobility affect your ability to continue to do the things you like with the people you love?
In many conversations around these issues with my aging clients I have come to understand that it takes longer than you might think to settle in to the idea that aging most often requires a change of circumstances. 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 a necessary one. It will not be a “one and done” conversation either. So get started - update your financial plan to include your quality of life preferences.