10 Steps to Set Yourself Up for Success in Your Retirement
Happy 75, Baby Boomers! 2021 marks the year that the first of the boomers — 3.4 million babies born in the U.S. in 1946 — start turning 75. My Uncle Mike, born January 5th, 1946, is one of the first to mark this significant milestone. A birthday is the perfect time to make sure you well set up for the future, especially since we all have far more time at home to focus on the tasks that many of us avoided for years.
Many baby boomers I know have had to assume the care of their aging parents. It was often a very stressful scenario because their parents did not plan, often refused help, and left adult children to pick up the pieces. Because of this experience, baby boomers are motivated to save their kids from this same fate. They are eager to plan so that their kids won’t be burdened with their future care.
If this is you, take these 10 steps to set yourself up for success:
1) Meet with your attorney. Make sure your estate planning documents are in order. If it has been several years, review them and make sure they still fit your current choices and situation. These documents should include power of attorney documents, advance directives, and a will. Remind yourself who you named as your decision maker for healthcare and finances. Remind yourself who you named as a back-up. Determine whether the power of attorney documents are effective immediately or upon incapacity. If upon incapacity, how is this triggered
2) Meet with your financial advisor. Make sure you understand how much money you will have for any potential future care costs. Do you have long-term care insurance? If you do, remind yourself what it covers and what can trigger a claim. If your finances are limited, planning ahead is even more essential.
3) Make a Plan B. Make sure you understand the options for care if you have an unexpected change in health and the costs to expect. We all want to believe we will be healthy until the day we die peacefully in our sleep after a long, healthy, and happy life. However, this isn’t always how life goes. You will sleep better at night having a plan for the “what-ifs.” Schedule a consultation with an Aging Life Care Professional to understand the future care options and costs. We can help you create a plan for those “what-if” scenarios. You can find an Aging Life Care Professional at www.aginglifecare.org
If your financial resources are limited, an Aging Life Care Professional can help you figure out the best way to preserve what money you do have and share tips for navigating Medicaid if that will be a path you’ll need to explore. Planning for the future doesn’t have to be depressing, it can actually bring peace of mind so you can focus on what matters most…those grandkids or planning future trips. If you don’t have family to step in if something unexpected happens, this Plan B planning is even more important.
4) Decide what you want. Take time to think about what you want when the time does come for needing extra help. Do you want to stay at home? Downsize? Join your neighbors in that retirement community they just put a down payment on? Live in a cottage in your daughter’s backyard? What is your ideal scenario? Now, how can you realistically make this happen?
5) Build your support team. You will want to establish a good team to ensure you are well supported when the time arises. This team should include an elder law or estate planning attorney, financial advisor, accountant, an engaged primary care provider, and an Aging Life Care Professional. This multi-disciplinary team can collaborate together to ensure all aspects of your life are addressed: financial, health, and overall wellbeing. Read more about creating your support team in this article: Caregiving is Marathon: Make Sure You Have the Right People in Your Lifeboat.
6) Take care of your heart. There is no better time than the present to do all those things your doctor wants you to do…eat well, exercise, reduce stress, stop smoking, and limit alcohol intake. The more you take care of yourself now, the longer you can postpone the need to tap into your Plan B scenarios. Taking care of your heart and your health will extend your ability to be active and engaged.
7) Nurture your brain. Heart health is brain health, so eating well and exercise will also help keep your brain healthy. In addition, good sleep, learning new things, doing good, and engaging with others will all help keep your brain healthy for years to come.
8) Create a back-up plan. As we age, two areas where help is often needed first is transportation and bill paying. Work on a back-up plan now for how you will get around when driving is no longer safe and when keeping up with your bills begins to feel like a chore. You can find a professional bookkeeper at www.aadmm.com
9) Engage your family. Once you have updated your legal paperwork, have a good grasp of your financial situation, researched your Plan B options, have created your support team, and have determine what you want when the day comes that you need help, pull your family together to share your plans so they can ensure these plans are followed. If you don’t have family, pull together your support team in case they have to step in and implement your plans.
10) Accept a little help. Often accepting a little help now can save money in the long run and free up time for more enjoyable activities. Some ideas for lightening the load now: hiring a housekeeper 1-2x/month, assistance with yard work, help with home maintenance, meal delivery, bookkeeping assistance, or help with getting the house organized.
I challenge you to take these 10 steps in 2021. Trust me, you will glad you did.
Not sure where to start? Aging Wisdom is here to help. Schedule a consultation online today or call us at 206.456.5155.
Lisa Mayfield is the founder of Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care company in the Seattle area. For over twenty years, she has been helping individuals and families navigate the complicated landscape of options and proactively plan for their future. To learn more, visit: www.agingwisdom.com