With technological advances and increased access to healthcare, stereotypes about old age are changing rapidly. If you take care of yourself, 50 can be the new 30, and 80 can be the new 60. While itís good to embrace this shift in mentality, many people still try to avoid acknowledging their age and the specific responsibilities that come with their later years.
As you age, creating a plan for your finances and physical health are two of the most important things you can do. Yet many people put off making these preparations, which can make things much more complicated for you and your loved ones. Fortunately, taking small steps now can make a huge difference later on.
Here are a few things to consider when planning for later in life.
Make a Financial Plan
In all likelihood youíll reach a point in your life in which youíre no longer willing or able to continue working a full-time job. At this point, no one wants to be a financial burden on their family when healthcare and other costs of living become unmanageable. Because of this, perhaps the most important financial decision you can make is choosing to invest in a retirement fund.
Itís best to begin this part of the process as soon as possible. Even if you feel like you arenít making the kind of money necessary to make this kind of investment, even saving a small percentage of your pay each month can make a huge difference over many years. Starting early also allows compound interest to build up, which will allow your savings to grow exponentially over time.
Common retirement plans include an individual retirement account (IRA), a Roth IRA, and a 401(k). These are only a few options available to you, and each of these offers different benefits as well as stipulations. Itís important to speak with a financial advisor about which is best for you.
If your employer offers a sponsored retirement fund, this may be the best option as they will walk you through the services they offer. As an added benefit, the company may match a certain percentage of the money you place in your retirement account, which is basically free money. If you are self-employed or work for a company that doesnít offer a retirement plan, donít neglect putting in some time to do some research and speak with professionals about setting up some sort of retirement plan.
Keep in mind, with many plans you may not be able to access these funds until you reach a certain age or meet other qualifications. While exploring complicated finance and tax issues surrounding your retirement might not be the most exciting, working with a financial advisor to fully understand your financial plan will allow you to live comfortably in your later years.
Aside from the funds youíll personally use, itís also important to create a plan for any money and other assets you may leave behind. This could include retirement funds, life insurance policies, and savings accounts as well as physical assets like your home, your vehicle, and other possessions. Working with an estate planner to create a valid will can help ensure there are no legal complications for your loved ones after you pass on.
Consider Your Healthcare Preferences
As with your finances, itís crucial to prepare to navigate difficult or sudden situations involving your healthcare. When the unexpected happens, a chronic condition flares up, or your body naturally deteriorates, your family can be left to make important decisions about your medical treatment. Aside from adding to financial difficulties, this can be emotionally challenging for everyone involved.
While you may not want to think about the possibility of health problems later in life, itís essential that you create a plan and record your healthcare preferences. As 92 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, you may already be aware of what to expect from your health you age. Again, this probably isnít something you want to think about, but ignoring health concerns altogether will only make things worse.
With regular medical checkups, you can create a treatment plan early and prevent some conditions from worsening when possible. If serious complications seem to be inevitable, it may be a good idea to create an advanced directive. This may include information about whether you would like to be put on life support of necessary and which specific treatments you would be willing to undergo. Youíll also be able to designate someone who will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your wishes.
When creating the documents involved in an advanced directive, you donít actually need a lawyer to be present. However, you may need to meet certain local requirements, such as having one or more witnesses at the time you sign the documents.
Afterward, it is important to share this information with your family. This can be an extremely difficult conversation to have, even if nothing is immediately wrong with your health at the moment. However, making your wishes known now will alleviate some of the anxiety and other strong emotions that could arise should family members need to step in and help make decisions.
Once youíve created this plan, you should store copies in several locations. You healthcare provider should keep a copy in your medical file. The person you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf should also keep a copy in a safe place. Finally, keeping a copy in a safe and obvious location in your home and telling family members where to find it will ensure no one has to dig through stacks of papers in a time of crisis.
Reaching old age can be a beautiful time in your life. Of course, it can also be frustrating when health conditions inevitably arise or when your finances become thinly stretched in the face of new lifestyle needs. Fortunately, with a bit of planning early on, you can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes from these challenges, saving yourself and your loved ones a lot of trouble and confusion.