Being Prepared as You AgeAging is inevitable. We know it's coming, yet we often put off planning for it or ignore it entirely. But here's the thing: aging doesn't have to be a dreaded part of life. The secret to happy and healthy aging? Planning. Planning makes things not only easier for yourself but for your loved ones as well. Being prepared allows you to have more freedom and time to do the things you want to do—spend more time with family, take a cross-country road trip, or become an expert at a new hobby. Here are a few things you should be doing now so you can do all those things later.
1. Talk About the "What-Ifs"So, you’ve decided to confront this whole aging thing. Unfortunately, your loved ones might not be on the same page. It’s not easy to talk about the inevitable, but it is essential. Letting your loved ones know your wants if something happens not only ensures that your wishes are met but takes away some of the burdens of decision-making from your family.
2. Make a WillWhat legacy do you want to leave behind? Having a will is the only way to ensure that your assets are divided how you want after you pass. While you can draft one up yourself, the slightest error can invalidate it, so it’s best to leave this one to the professionals.
3. Organize a Power of AttorneyThis is another step that should be done sooner rather than later. Setting up your power of attorney well in advance will prevent you from not being able to if you are at some point deemed not to have “sufficient mental capacity.” If this happens, having a loved one take over your affairs is more complicated and costly.
4. Be Financially ResponsibleMoney is one of the most significant stresses that aging brings. People want to be able to support themselves after retirement but also enjoy this newfound freedom. Many financial experts say you will need 70% of your pre-retirement income to live off of. It’s also important to pay off all of your debts before you retire. Paying them off after will be much more difficult and can lead to more problems down the road. Lastly, plan a budget. Once you plan a monthly and annual budget, you can get a better picture of what your retirement plans can look like, balancing the things you need and the things you want.
5. Make Things EasierPlanning for your future is all about reducing stress. Take some time to think about what you really need and make some decisions that could lead to easier aging. Do you need to downsize? Move closer to family? Look into senior living? All of these things are worth considering and dealing with while you are more easily able to.
6. Stay ActiveNot just physically but emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Take an online class, join a club, volunteer, make new friends. All these things are going to make aging something to look forward to. While you may be getting older, you are never too old to try something new or challenge yourself.
6. Stay OrganizedHave you ever found yourself panicking when you can’t remember where you put an important document? To prevent this, keep essential documents in one, easily accessible, dry, and secure place. These documents should be kept indefinitely (not all will be relevant):
- Adoption paperwork
- Car titles
- Birth certificate
- Current deeds and mortgage
- Current insurance policies
- Death certificate
- Divorce decrees
- Relevant medical paperwork
- Lease paperwork
- Marriage license
- Military paperwork
- Naturalization/citizenship paperwork
- Old drivers license
- Patents and copyrights
- Social security card Social security statements for retirements
- Stocks and bond certificates
- Tax returns