Senior Life Planning for Years of Happiness
A Step by Step Guide to Post-Retirement Health & Comfort
Senior Life Planning: how to plan for a long and happy post-retirement life.
This is a Cornerstone or Hub How To Page. It’s a step-by-step guide, with links to supporting ArtChester.net posts on how to carry out Senior Life Planning.
This article is not about the squishy feel-good stuff that we’ve discussed elsewhere – how to be happy, and the meaning of life. This page is about the post-retirement nuts-and-bolts essentials that will give you the time and leisure to be happy and to have an enriching life. (My credentials to offer advice appear at the bottom of this page.)
You Are Always Planning
Only one-half of Americans have executed a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA), also known as a Living Will. Choosing to write an HPOA is an act of planning. However, choosing not to write one is also an act of planning. Not having a living will means you have chosen to roll the dice about what will happen to you if you become incapacitated. Thus, every one of us has already taken some steps in senior life planning.
Life planning is important at all ages. A previous blog described the frequency of injuries from vehicle accidents, which can happen to anyone. Thus a person who dies in a collision without a will has no control over who will look after his children, pets or dependents. And a person who goes into a coma due to an accident and has no HPOA cannot control medical decisions that affect his care.
Be sure to consider and provide for these worst-case scenarios. That will equip you to handle the lesser, more likely, things that may happen to you.
Therefore, although we are discussing senior life planning here, it’s not just for seniors. Everyone needs to think ahead, or they are abdicating all say-so in event of a tragedy.
Key Ingredients of Senior Life Planning
A plan for your future does not have to be complicated. There are just three essential parts of senior life planning, which this page summarizes. Each of the three sections outlines one part, and includes a link to a blog giving a full discussion.
Senior Life Planning 1: Best Retirement Location
The first part of a long-term plan is to determine your best retirement location. However, that depends on the two factors that, more than anything else, will support your good health and future comfort:
- Good friends with whom you have frequent, preferably daily, face-to-face physical contact. E-mail and social media pen pals do not qualify! We need to love and be loved, in person.
- Trusted representatives on whom you can rely to make key decisions for you when you cannot. Now, while you are at the top of your game, is the time to choose and authorize the folks you may someday depend on. And you’ll need a Living Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Will and a Trust to designate them.
Once you accept these two essentials, you can make a wise decision about where to live, one that you will not later regret.
Moving to a new location is not easy when you consider your long term needs. That’s why most people “retire in place” or else retire to a location they have been visiting for many years, where they already have friends.
For a full discussion of your best retirement location, see the blog Senior Life Planning 1: Best Retirement Location.
Senior Life Planning 2: Best Retirement Advice & Support
With your planned retirement location settled, the next important activity is to choose and authorize those trusted representatives we mentioned above. They fall generally under three categories:
- Financial: You need a plan for managing your assets, income and expenses that has a good chance of supporting you as long as you need it, possibly with backup from Medicaid.
- Estate Plan: An attorney can prepare for you the key documents needed for an overall estate plan. Moreover, if you need help identifying a trusted representative to serve, your attorney may be able to assist.
- Medical Care: You need doctors who can treat any ongoing conditions you have. Of course, you want those doctors to be around when you need them. Therefore, when you are choosing a new doctor try to find one who’s younger than you. The doctors in turn are your entry point to hospitals who can best treat you.
In each of these areas, you need trusted representatives whom you can rely on for key decisions. And they will need support from competent professionals.
Help Is Available!
It’s not always easy to put together a full team of advisors. However, help is available. In addition to friends and friends-of-friends, there are government agencies and charities devoted to providing free, objective advice to seniors. And the Internet has additional information.
Our full article in this area starts with finding good advisors, and then homes in on each of the professional specialties. For that more complete discussion of best retirement advice and support, see the blog Senior Life Planning 2: Best Retirement Advice & Support.
Senior Life Planning 3: Best Retirement Community
The last part of senior life planning is selecting one or more specific places to live in your chosen retirement location.
Unless you are determined to live in your own home “forever,” and can afford it, your best bet is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). This is a facility that offers a full range of living styles. You can enter an independent living section that resembles an upscale condominium development, with many activities and common amenities. However, if later on you need personal help, you can move to assisted living, nursing care or even dementia care, all on the same campus.
There are many available CCRCs and not all are first-rate. In fact, it’s difficult to find one that you will consider both affordable and satisfactory for the long term. However, it’s easier for you to find your best retirement community now than it will be ten, or twenty, years from now!
For a full discussion of how to find your best retirement community, see the blog Senior Life Planning 3: Best Retirement Community.
I invite your comments and suggestions to improve this guide to senior life planning, and its supporting articles (send me a note on the Contact page). And I wish you a long and healthy life!
– Cozy Family from The Print Shop 2 Collection. Not for download or reuse.
Acknowledgements: I thank my friend Zenon Neumark for proposing this topic and providing further information. Also, I thank Dinesh Telang MD, Robyn Mullinger DDS, and my friends Gary Boyd and Nola Chester for helpful discussions on senior life planning.
Addendum: Here are Art’s credentials for offering these articles about senior life planning:
- I have visited and assisted the transition of relatives to assisted living or nursing home care in Texas, Michigan and Virginia. In addition, I have observed this transition by good friends in California, New Mexico and New Jersey.
- In 2019 I spent 7 weeks as resident of a skilled nursing facility as a result of my hip fracture.
- I have engaged estate planning and financial planning professionals on several occasions in California and Michigan.
- As a card-carrying geezer (age 78) I have read about, thought about and personally carried out most of the steps discussed in these articles.
- Moreover, I welcome comments and feedback from you, my readers! I will use them to revise and improve this group of articles.