…or too late!
While many baby boomers ping pong between playing adviser to their grown children and caregiver to their senior parents, they often forget about planning for their own future. But retirement is one of the biggest life changes you will ever experience. It’s critical to have a plan in place — way ahead of the game.
When planning for retirement, there are four main areas of concern – financial, aging in place, housing and medical – to which you should devote plenty of time and research now. Below we’ve shed a bright light on these subjects so you can get your retirement ducks in a row sooner, rather than later.
FINANCIAL Money talks
First and foremost, do you have the funds to pay your way for the next third of your life? If you don’t have a pension, Social Security benefits sure won’t support you in the manner you’re accustomed to. Talk to a financial advisor to determine how much it’ll cost you to live, compared to how much you already have socked away. He or she can help you determine the best way to allocate your investments as well as how much more you need to accumulate before you stop drawing a paycheck.
One of the expenses that you need to be sure is well-covered is your medical care. While you may have been living for the day when Medicare would pick up the tab, don’t count on it to pay for everything. You’ll need a good Medigap supplemental insurance policy to cover the out-of-pocket charges you incur.
And because 70 percent of those who reach age 65 will require long-term care, you’ll also want to look into long-term care insurance. But don’t wait too long! Because you must be in generally good health to pass underwriting and premiums can be lower at a younger age, it’s wise to line up long-term care insurance early.
Avoid the legal pitfalls and financial ramifications of not having a well-planned estate. You’re never too young to consult with an estate planner. Refer to pages 33-48 to get started.
MEDICAL Just what the doctor ordered
It’s important to establish a strong relationship with physicians you trust, while you’re still in good health. That experience gives your medical team a benchmark to properly assess your health as you age.
And because your body isn’t the same at 80 as it is at 50, doctors who are intimately familiar with the aging process are your best bet as you grow older. Some general practitioners have a lot of experience with senior patients; however, geriatricians specialize in the care of people over 65. A geriatrician can work alone or in a consultative role with your family doctor.
It’s also smart to choose medical professionals who are close to your home or where you plan to live. And in case you can’t drive at some point, doctors-offices that are within walking distance will be a big plus. Many retirement communities have doctors who maintain hours on-site for that measure of convenience.
AGING IN PLACE Home is where the heart is
It’s only natural to want to remain in your home for as long as you can. To stay put, however, you need to make sure your home is a safe place for you as you age.
Do you have a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor? Do you have a walk-in shower and handrails to prevent slipping accidents? How many steps do you have to negotiate to get in or out of your house? An elevated terrace, for example, can minimize the steps from house to backyard. You may need to make modifications to your existing home now to give you the extra time you want in your home later.
What may also necessitate a move is increasing functional limitations. A joint problem could make it difficult to groom or dress yourself. Maybe you can’t shop or cook for yourself anymore or you forget to take your medications. By bringing home care in, you’ll gain a helping hand with all those activities of daily living as well as much-needed companionship. And that assistance can often buy you extra years where you?re familiar ? and most comfortable.
HOUSING Moving on up
Whether you need medical supervision or simply prefer a “no-maintenance” lifestyle, moving could be the best thing for you. But before a crisis occurs and you have to make a snap decision on where to go, do your homework on the assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in your area or close to a loved one. Take a tour, meet the staff, learn the types of care they offer, and decide which ones suit your lifestyle and your budget.
If you are planning on using the proceeds from the sale of your home to pay the entrance and monthly fees for a retirement community, do you have a trusted realtor at the ready? Is your home in “for sale” shape? Do you need help downsizing, storing and/or moving your belongings? In other words, make sure to do your due diligence before the pressure is on to sell.
Bottom line, this stage of life is down the road for all of us. Accepting and planning for your retirement years is the first step in getting the most out of what should be the best chapter of your life!