The baby boomer generation is really the first generation coming into retirement age with the knowledge that living into your 80s and 90s is a probability not an exception.
A friend said to me the other day after spending time assisting—and arguing—with his fiercely independent but not-so-agile 90 year old father, “He never thought he’d live this long so nothing has been planned. But I know I might live into my 90s. How do I do “getting old” better?”
The baby boomer generation is really the first generation coming into retirement age with the knowledge that living into your 80s and 90s is a probability not an exception. In fact, most financial advisors will tell you to plan your finances to age 100 reducing the chances that you will outlive your money.
That means putting some things in place now to make sure your life is the way you want it to be when you are not so able to take care of or speak for yourself.
Here are four tips to get you started on planning how to do “getting old better:”
1. Talk to your family. Boy, do we hate talking with our family members about fundamental things like money, health, long term care and death. But here’s the deal. If you are going to count on them to help you when you are not so able, then you owe it to them now to tell them what you have in mind. It is truly a gift to let them know about what resources you have or don’t have; where your important legal documents are located and who you want to make important health decisions for you if you are no longer able. One resource to get you started is a document called 5 Wishes that helps you identify your preferences regarding medical, personal, and emotional needs when you can no longer speak for yourself.
2. Get your legal documents in order. Here are some of the legal documents that will make it easier for your family: a financial power of attorney; a medical power of attorney; advance directives, and a will. You can download a free copy of your state’s advance directive here or contact your states attorney general. If you have a financial planner or insurance agent who knows about all of your insurance and financial documents, introduce your children or whoever you will be looking to help you in your later years.
3. Consider long term care insurance. Medicare does not pay for long term care, except under very limited circumstances following a hospital stay. Long term care insurance helps pay for non-medical care when you can no longer care for yourself. That can be simply someone who comes in to help you cook, or assist with your medications or personal grooming, all the way to assisted living and nursing home care. Most plans include home care and can even help pay for modifications to your home so that you can stay there as long as you can. Speak with a specialist in long term care insurance who can help you determine if it is insurance that fits your needs. It’s smart to buy it when you are in your 50s or early 60s. The younger and healthier you are the more affordable the policy will be and the more likely you will be to qualify.
4. Think about where you want to live in your “slow go” years. The early years of retirement are often called the “go-go years” because you’re doing all those things you couldn’t do when you were working. There are great travel experiences. New friends. Maybe, a move to a new state with all the excitement of “starting over.” But if you live into your 80s and 90s that location may no longer be right for your “going slow or no go” years. And by the way, admit that at some point you will no longer be able to drive so consider transportation alternatives in the community. So consider now where you will be best suited to live when you hit that stage of life …and then do you and your family a huge favor and make the move before you have to.
It is hard to think about a time when you can’t take care of yourself as you have for years. But if you do the rewards are plenty.
You’ll feel more independent and happier living in a place and a way that you choose. And, your family will know how you want them to be of assistance. Now, that’s doing “getting old better.”
Laura Rossman has over 20 years of experience in health and senior care services. She currently heads up marketing and communications for iQuote by Longevity Alliance, an independent national insurance broker who helps seniors compare Medicare insurance and long term care insurance from multiple providers.
As a change of life baby, I was surrounded by older adults. I was shy therefore I did a lot of listening while older folks told stories. Also it gave much time to think about their age. I wondered how it would be like to be like them. Well here I am.
Aging is a process that we all go through. There is no stopping it. We boomers just need to accept it. I use my sense of humor to do this. One day as a young child I asked my mom why she had so many freckles. Her reply was, “Someday you will know.” Well I know now. Back in my 40’s I noticed freckles all over my arms. I am here to tell you they have spread. There is even a few on my face. A friend of mine was seeing an old down home doctor who was burning his off. Now of course I had to inform him that he had age spots. We all get them. There are many skin creams that help turn back the clock on aging and help fade them a bit but I just let mine do their thing because it is just a part of aging.
I have spent a lot of money at health clubs but my upper portion of the body seemed to go with gravity. The sports bra is certainly not the most appealing under garment when one is in that shape. At least the stores have alternatives like lift and separate. I do find those under wires are very uncomfortable. At first I was rather shocked by this condition but gravity takes over as we age. Some people go for breast implants and tummy tucks but I am not into pain. So that is just not for me. There are many professional cosmetic surgery physicians that specialize in plastic surgery and it might be a choice for some.
Now how about those eye lashes. In my younger years everyone complimented me on my beautiful baby blue seductive Betty Davis eyes. I recently noticed that my eye lashes have started disappearing. There is nothing much left to put the lash lengthening mascara on any more. Oh well, there is always sun glasses in the summer time. Beside that who needs make up. The natural look is the in thing and more important is that I have eye site. Hair loss is another aging process. They do make the nice wrinkle cream fillers but it feels like wearing pancake dough. I found a sure fire remedy for the eye brows. Mine turned white therefore I use a nice eye brow pencil to paint on a little color. There is always a reason to be grateful. We just have to reverse our thinking. Science is always coming up with new things to help us to do that. Of course we want to look our best. Doesn’t every woman? Age gives us wisdom as to how and when to make choices.
Now I know we don’t talk about it but it is all over television in the commercials. There are many sales ads for Depends, gels and etc. Urinary incontinence is a bladder condition after menopause but can be corrected by surgical procedures if one chooses for a better quality of life. Men don’t think I am going to leave you out. How about all those commercials where the elderly couples are floating around in sexual bliss. Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by prostate problems and other reasons related to age. I knew a fellow that took those pills but then his face turned red, had rapid heart beat and always got a terrible headache. Again one must know that men with heart problems, pacemakers and such should avoid taking medicines for this condition. Always consult with your physician and allow him to suggest your best alternatives. Make sure you read the label on side effects. Now on the positive side though it brings back the act of holding hands and cuddling on those cold winter nights. It is nothing new. Everyone ages. It is like the weather. We can’t change it but we can change our attitude about it and seek help with our problems. Always consult with your medical insurance companies to see if you have coverage for any procedures that you might need.
I use to walk 5 miles every day to stay fit. I still walk. The only difference is that I go at a much slower pace. When my knees start crackling like rice krispies then I just snap my fingers and appreciate the fact that I can still walk. A good stretch feels so good. It also helps my friend Arthur, the name I have given to my arthritic aches and pains. The Arthritis Association and your physician can suggest the proper means of treatment so that you can enjoy your retirement years.
Now back in the day, I noticed the older folks talked a lot about their bowels. Then I went into the health care field and found out that was a big topic. It is one of the leading complaints in the Dr’s. office. It was either constipation or diarrhea. So there you go again. Another reason to eat the right foods, drink water and exercise. It saves money too because those over the counter medicines can become pretty expensive. If you are having any of these symptoms see your physician. There could be bowel blockage or caused from many things like irritable bowel syndrome. Don’t give up. There are medicines and treatments out there. We have fought before and we can still do it.
Feet can be a big issue. I remember the high heel spike shoes but that is just a memory. Now I am so grateful for Dr. Scholl’s and the comfy sports shoes. Just look at feet next time you go out. Men have adapted to the sports shoes just fine instead of the designer pointed toed boots. Plus look around we are right in style. I am so grateful for the pedicure places. Whatever happened to those nice natural smooth feeling baby soft feet. Don’t hesitate to see a foot doctor because again there may be underlying problems that can be corrected and improve your quality of living.
Watch out ladies and men for those hair colors on the market. Make sure you do a strain test. It may say it covers gray and white but I am here to tell you don’t expect too much. I have a cosmetology license so it is a completely different subject to cover a full head of white/ gray hair. Again though there are many good new and improved products that are coming out everyday for us. Now men, don’t worry because bald is now beautiful. Please men just accept the aging process. Combing ones hair from back to front and down is not very cool. Also those hair pieces can be a drag. I dated a fella once and didn’t know he wore one. I almost cut a finger on a hair pin when I started to run my fingers through his hair. Just think with less hair how much cooler you will be with vacationing in that nice tropical beach paradise. Don’t forget the sun screen. Those rays can be damaging to the skin.
Now may I suggest regular visits to the dentist with good dental hygiene and flossing. When the dentist tells you this then listen up. Another fellow I dated gave me a shocker when I found his choppers sitting in a cup smiling at me on my bathroom sink. Gum disease can be prevented also as we age. We just have to work hard at keeping healthy as possible. Some things we can’t prevent and we will just have to accept. We can develop a coping skill that is positive and not give up. Sometimes we may not like certain things but we have the ability to accept them.
Now, I have gotten a little carried away here folks rambling on and on. The point I am trying to make is, be good to yourself. Accept the aging process. Practice good health. Accept your body as it is. Accept and love yourself as you are. Aging is a part of life that we ALL go through. We can fight it or accept it as we enjoy the years that we have. We can laugh or we can cry. That’s a choice. I like to laugh myself but a cry now and then helps to when it is needed. It is okay to show feelings. We are aging and that is totally normal. I have found myself crying while watching a movie. You might call it sensitive or you might just call it freedom to express a feeling. Change is change and it always will be. Love yourself and in turn love others. Smile and treat yourself with love and respect. Guess what? Those that love you will love you just as you are and those that don’t, don’t matter anyway. Get out there folks. Be who you are. Exercise that mind. Focus on what you can change and let the other stuff go. Focus more on what you can change instead of wasting time on worrying about things that you have no power to change. Challenge life as life challenges you. Enjoy the journey with a cheerful spirit! We are boomers and boomers don’t quit. Worrying only zaps us of the energy that we need to enjoy our much due boomer years. It is time to have real fun, freedom and some well deserved relaxation time. So lets stroll into that over 55 retirement community and meet others just like us and play golf tennis, fish and let it all hang out. Don’t worry about the young folks understanding. They will be in our shoes someday. It is your time to enjoy life right now.