AARP grants you membership at age 50. You can file for Social Security benefits as early as age 62. The average grandparent is age 64.
If you’ve hit some or all of these milestones, do you identify as a senior citizen? Or better yet, do you feel like you’re a senior? If you are like most 50- to 64-year-olds, the answer is a simple, resounding “no!”
In 1950, you would have received normal Social Security benefits at age 65. But the average life expectancy was 67. Health care has come a long way since then. Today, you can receive full benefits at age 66 and continue receiving them until 2018’s life expectancy of 85 or longer.
In fact, today it is not uncommon for folks to spend 30-plus years in retirement! So, are you really prepared to be a “senior” citizen? And are you prepared for your loved one to be a “senior” citizen?
In answering this question, it is important to understand the three stages of “seniority.”
Stage 1: The first stage starts around 65. You may not be fully employed any longer. This is when you are still quite active, so plan to front-load your bucket list items. You may travel the world, spend time with grandchildren, and pursue your hobbies and passions. As a result, you may find yourself spending more money than when you were fully employed. This stage typically lasts until you are 75 years old.
Stage 2: This shift typically happens around 75 and lasts until 85. Maintaining a house can become stressful, and you may choose to downsize to make life a little easier. You usually spend less money here since you are still healthy, but you are less active.
Stage 3: This stage usually begins around 85 years old. While most leisure expenses decrease, health care costs rise making this stage just as expensive as the first. You may find yourself visiting doctors more often and slowing down a bit. It is not uncommon for adult children (or an appointed fiduciary) to become more involved in your financial and medical matters.
The first stage may be easy to envision because you are excited. You are no longer beholden to a desk or boss or clients. It may feel similar to your first year of college when you were free from the structure of your high school or parents’ rules (or at least you thought). But are you giving much thought to stages 2 and 3? Who will take care of you when your health, mobility and independence decline?
If you want to be prepared, you need to tackle these difficult questions. It is important to speak to an estate planning attorney, financial advisor and those you expect to take on important roles. The more prepared you are the easier, less stressful and more enjoyable life will be you and your family.
Here are a few tips
on important areas:
Financial and Legal. Update important documents such as your will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney. Do you have instructions about what should happen to your property after you die (will)? Who do you want to make decisions about your health care when you can’t make them (health care proxy)? Who will represent you in decisions about your finances and property when you can’t (durable power of attorney)?
Review your financial plan and ensure you have the ability to finance life’s expected and unexpected events (i.e. long-term care, death of spouse, etc.).
Social. Stay connected. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that loneliness and isolation can be deadly. Technology can help. Consider learning to use some of these helpful apps: Uber, Lyft or GoGoGrandparent are good for transportation; Skype and FaceTime are good for communication; GrubHub or Foodler are good for restaurant delivery; Peapod or InstaCart will get your groceries delivered; Pandora or Netflix will help provide entertainment and for almost everything you can try Alexa
Housing. Discuss the costs and pros/cons of aging in place versus assisted living facilities. If you wish to age in place, make sure your home is “senior” friendly.
Do your research. There are many options. If you choose assisted living, understand what happens if/when your money runs out? Medicare does not cover assisted living so incorporate that into your long-term financial plan.
Are you really prepared to be a “senior” citizen? Shoot me an email and tell me why.
JASON E. SIPERSTEIN, CFA, CFP, is vice president, wealth management at Eliot Rose Wealth Management. Contact him by email, email@example.com.