Most Americans strive to live longer than their life expectancy. Quality of life is a very important factor as well. In a 2018 poll by Axios.com, almost 7 out of 10 men want to live past age 77, the average life expectancy for men, and 57% of women would like to live past age 81, the average life expectancy for women. In that same poll, when asked if they would like to live past 100, nearly half of the respondents said it depended on how much pain they were in or whether they would be able to live independently.1 It is widely recognized that many uncertainties and challenges come up as people age. So, what are some things you can do to help yourself or your parents live better lives as you approach age 70, 80, and beyond?
Home Is Where the Heart Is
According to an August 2018 study, over 75% of Americans age 50 and older want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age instead of moving into a nursing home or elsewhere.2 To potentially make that happen for either you or your parents, you need to plan and take action steps that fit your unique needs and circumstances.
Some of the key considerations surrounding successfully aging in place include:
- Assess Needs: Are there specific health problems that might reduce your or your parents’ ability to take care of themselves? What are the risk factors, and what will either you or your parents likely need as time goes on in terms of help with the issues of everyday life such as taking care of the home, cooking meals, and getting to and from doctor visits, and other things?
- Home Renovations: Make the home more user friendly and safe by doing things like widening doorways for walker and wheelchair access, opening up living areas for easier mobility, and adding and/or replacing hardware, handles, and railings.
- Home Layout: Focus on having the primary living area and the main bedroom on the first floor of the home in order to avoid using stairs.
Protect Your Physical, Cognitive, and Social Well Being
Activity and daily movement are important contributors to healthy aging, regardless of whether you are walking, swimming, jogging, doing yoga, biking, playing tennis or pickleball, or doing something else. The UN recommends that adults over age 65 should engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate or intense training every week.3 With today’s advances in wearable fitness tracking devices, tracking your or your parents’ physical activity is now easier than ever.
Studies show that people who engage in meaningful activities like volunteering or hobbies say they feel happier and healthier and are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment later in life. Connecting with other people through social activities and community programs can keep your brain active and can help contribute to your feeling of well-being in retirement.
Safeguard Your Finances
As people age, perhaps the biggest risk to their financial well-being isn’t an external event like a market crash, but potentially their own decisions and actions. Your financial capacity, which is the ability to manage your finances in your own best interests, is an important skill, and preparing for the decline of that capacity is an extremely important part of your long-term planning. This could include everything from balancing your bank accounts, to paying bills accurately and on time, and understanding your investment account statements. In my experience, I have seen declining financial abilities result in unpaid bills, unprecedented gifts to caretakers, higher than normal home maintenance expenditures to contractors, and other things.
Planning and taking helpful steps early is a much better strategy than having to react to issues as they come up. This is true if you are planning for your own retirement, or whether you are helping your parents with their own golden years. Please consult your Atlanta Financial advisor if you would like to discuss your or your parents’ plan as age 70,80, or 90+ approaches. We are happy to answer any questions you have or assist you in any way.
For more information on how to prepare for retirement, Atlanta Financial’s Retire-ReadyFIT™ program is a comprehensive approach to planning for your retirement. We take a look at your entire retirement picture and help you fill in the missing pieces and guide you by incorporating all the key components of retirement and establishing a plan of action to help you systematically navigate the transition into your best retirement.
1 David Nather “Exclusive Poll: People want to live longer, but maybe not to 100, Axios.com November 28, 2018
2 Joanne Binette and Kerri Vasold, “2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Age 18-Plus, AARP Research, August 2018
3 How to Make Life Worth Living Way Over Current Life Expectancy? The Medical Futurist September 14 2019