Overcome Challenges to Aging
They say the two things no one can avoid are death and taxes. But, the third unavoidable reality is aging. For people who make sound investments in themselves, the negative impacts of aging can be held at bay. Thus, the retirement years can be some of the best times of their lives. By focusing on making smart and disciplined decisions during a person’s family/working years, they can achieve a well-balanced retirement. The three key pillars to building a well-balanced retirement are Finance, Health, and Lifestyle. It takes the combination of having enough money correctly positioned to last for years. Additionally, with good physical and mental health, and a lifestyle that is enriching and purposeful, you can avoid challenging problems that come with aging.
The sooner in life people take this well-balanced approach the better. However, it is also never too late to make adjustments and help mitigate the worst aspects of the challenges of aging. So, what are some of the most common areas that people need to avoid as their senior years approach?
- Not enough money – One of the two greatest fears for seniors is running out of money. Not saving and investing enough during peak earning years will undermine financial stability in the future. In addition, it forces seniors to live well below the lifestyle they may be accustomed to. Living within a reasonable budget and finding a way to continue generating income in retirement will help a senior not only maintain a healthier bottom line but will also help them live a more active, purposeful lifestyle as well.
- Inflation eroding the value of money – Income for seniors will come primarily from their investments, Social Security, and pensions for some as well. But to beat inflation and not be losing money from its corrosive effects, they will need to be earning a minimum of 3%-5% annually on invested money. Compounding the challenge is low-interest rates generate almost no return for liquid savings. Moreover, Social Security COLA’s have been lagging behind inflation for years (a major COLA increase of 6% or more is projected for 2022!).
- Under-or-over-cautious with money – Seniors need to find the right balance of liquid savings to meet their budgetary needs with low risk, but still keep money invested for longer-term growth. One to three years of money held in low-risk, low-yield money management accounts gives access to cash and avoids market downturns. Combining this approach with money invested in higher-risk, higher-yield vehicles will give seniors the ability to experience enough growth. Thus, stay ahead of inflation and not lose out on opportunities to benefit from market re-bounds if there is a market downturn and then recovery.
- Declining health – Declining health will wreak havoc not only on physical well-being, but it can decimate finances and bring any exciting retirement plans to a grinding halt. It is critical that people invest in their health as early as possible. Also, understand it is never too late to be exercising, eating right, cutting out bad habits, and staying focused on maintaining good health. Being overweight, sedentary, heavy drinking, poor diet, and smoking are all unforced errors that can be avoided with some discipline to avoid how badly the impact will be in later years.
- Loss of ADLs and independence – If a person’s health does decline and they begin to experience chronic conditions, they could start experiencing a loss of their ability to independently manage activities of daily living. ADLs such as eating, dressing, toileting, or walking. Two or more losses of ADLs are a sign that someone may no longer have the ability to live independently without jeopardizing their safety and maybe of those around them too.
- Long-Term Care – At this point, they will need to make decisions about the other greatest fear of seniors. The loss of independence and the need for long-term care support and services. Often times family members will become caregivers without even realizing they are playing that role. Thus, becomes a physical, emotional, and financial drain on everyone. It’s important to understand the forms of care. For example, homecare and assisted living, and how to pay for it through insurance. Medicare, Medicaid, or private dollars will make all the difference in this aspect of life in being a positive or negative experience for everyone involved (long-term care always impacts the entire family and not just the recipient). Alternative private pay options uniquely designed for seniors such as life settlements, reverse mortgages, and VA Aid and Attendance Benefits should be understood and considered.
- Purpose – Studies clearly show that a very important contributor to longevity is having a purpose in life. Many seniors today realize that retirement is about more than sitting on the porch. Seniors who maintain a purpose in their life and can find meaning in their retirement will stay healthier, happier, and will live longer. Stopping work does not mean ceasing being productive because there are so many ways seniors can find purpose. For example, with hobbies, family, charities, causes, and even generating income through other forms of work.
- Relationships – Being connected to others is one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity. Too many seniors become isolated as the years march forward and that can be dangerous both physically and emotionally. There are so many ways today to remain connected to family and friends through technology (COVID taught us all that), community organizations, clubs, religious and fraternal organizations, or maybe even starting a later life relationship. It takes some motivation to reach out to people and to get involved but building relationships will add so much to the quality of life a senior can experience.
- Environment – The environment a senior lives in will have a critical impact on their finances, health, and lifestyle. This is an aspect that is often taken for granted, but as our world keeps seeing the impacts of climate change hasten it will become one of the most important factors to consider. Where should a senior plan to live for their retirement over the next two or three decades? Whether it’s living in the U.S. or internationally, climate change has to be among the top considerations for where to reside in retirement as a senior. There are real financial and safety consequences to come for people investing in oceanfront properties that will be impacted by rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes. Seniors must consider the health and financial realities of living in zones that will continue to experience heat waves, drought, and wildfires. Whatever someone’s beliefs are about the causes of climate change doesn’t really matter when it comes to people’s lives. The climate has changed and will continue to change at an accelerating pace. Seniors will be among the most vulnerable and impacted people to its financial, health, and lifestyle consequences.
As people approach and then enter their senior years, there are many challenges that await them. However, they can increase their chances of overcoming the challenges. Seniors can experience a well-balanced and meaningful life in retirement if they properly plan and make smart financial, physical, and lifestyle investments. Want to prepare for retirement like a genius? Explore my podcast where listeners will learn the practical strategies that have worked for others in a conversational style that destigmatizes aging and insists the best is yet to come!