Is it Possible to Prepare for the Future?
Most seniors have not saved enough money for retirement much less compiled a carefully thought out plan for the future. In total, more than 40% of households headed by people aged 55 through 70 lack sufficient resources to maintain a living standard in retirement, a Wall Street Journal analysis concluded. That is around 15 million American households.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Americans aged 60 through 69 had about $2 trillion in debt in 2017, an 11% increase per capita from 2004, according to New York Federal Reserve data adjusted for inflation. They had $168 billion in outstanding car loans in 2017, 25% more per capita than in 2004. They had more than six times as much student-loan debt in 2017 than they did in 2004, Fed data show.
What woke me up to the threat of not planning ahead was family caregiving. I experienced first hand the effects of growing old watching my parents evolve in the latter stages. However, they had offspring to depend on.
After those years of looking out for them, I realized there will be no one for me who I can count on for help since I’m single and child free. That’s when I got on the stick and came up with a plan that set me on the right track: to become healthier, to move to a connected and walkable urban area, and to find nearby support and friendships.
Caring for a loved one is an awakening time for most family members. It’s when people understand the difficulties of growing older by seeing their parents or older relatives deal with heart problems while others confront dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Observing decline is heart wrenching and especially difficult for the elder. Caregivers thought parents are invincible but soon find the contrary.
If you are in the early stages of preparation, consider:
- Your home may be easy for you to navigate and comfortable for you now, but think about how that may change when you get older. A big house with lots of stairs to climb may present a serious challenge if you have a health or physical challenge.
- Draw up legal documents: a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney.
- Find a trustworthy person or family you can depend on for support and care. Work out a payment strategy and put it in writing. Get legal advice before implementing a plan. An elder law attorney can steer you in the right direction. Perform a comprehensive due diligence on the strategy and the person(s) before signing anything.
- Hire a chronic care advocate if you live with a prolonged medical condition, preferably an attorney specializing in elder law.
- Eat fresh, healthy foods.
- Keep your brain sharp by getting involved.
- Volunteer and help those in need.
Start looking ahead and plan for the future. I’m making it easy for you with my new FREE webinar, The 3 Strategies of Future Planning. Here’s the link to sign up: https://www.carolmarak.com/email-capture
About the Author
Carol Marak, aging alone advocate, columnist, speaker and editor at Seniorcare.com. A former family caregiver, who earned a Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and writes about personal concerns while growing older.View All Articles