Saturday, January 31, 2015

10 Things to Consider as You Age

Since I am in the "aging" group, here are ten things that become more important as you get up in years...

  1. Get your ducks in a row.  Have an "if I die today" sheet which lists all of your important information (user names and passwords, location of will, account info for all banks and investments, etc).  This makes your death insanely easier on your next of kin.  I've seen grieving kin take months and months trying to figure out everything needed to take care of a loved one's estate and this is wholly unnecessary if said loved one is a bit prepared for their eventual demise.
  2. Downsize and minimize you stuff.  After cleaning out my mother in law's place when she passed away and watching my aunt literally give the fire department my grandmother's home for a practice burn because she didn't want to clean it out, I can definitively say that no one wants to clean out decades worth of your junk.  If you do this for them it will be a great gift to your next of kin.
  3. Plan and pay for your funeral.  Again, when your (broke) next of kin are grieving, the last thing they want to do is figure out how to afford your death.  Funeral and burial expenses are getting to be astronomical these days so another kindness you can do for your loved ones is to have your funeral arrangements all taken care of before you die.
  4. If you are going to leave things for your next of kin, why not give them those things before you die?  Not only does this simplify the estate process after you die (and keep people from fighting over your stuff like a bunch of rabid hyenas) but you get to enjoy seeing them appreciate and utilize the stuff you give them.
  5. Plan out your end of life.  Things usually don't go as we expect them to.  If I had a choice I would--as a fan of compressed morbidity--like to be healthy and fit and clear of mind until the last minute when I die a quick and merciful death.  But I know that may not happen.  There are all kinds of horrible and sketchy things that can happen at the end of your life should you become ill or suffer from dementia and be unable to advocate for yourself.  Long term care insurance is one thing to consider.  Also consider what would happen to you if no relative wants to take care of you, if your estate runs out of money before you run out of life, and how/where you want your last years to be spent.  Then make a plan to make this happen.
  6. Have a will or trust, a living will, and a medical power of attorney.  It makes the probate process either unnecessary (common in the event that the deceased has a trust) or much smoother and the living will (also POLST form if necessary) as well as medical power of attorney can speak for you if you are unable to.
  7. Plan now for the common problems of aging.  Many of the retirees I've met in Vegas purposely chose to buy single story homes when they moved here because they know that sooner or later they may be unable to navigate stairs.  Some couples I know are already having the 'when do I stop driving talk".  Needless to say this talk never seems to go over well especially if it is their kids who are doing the talking (aka "Powdered butt syndrome").  
  8. Make your health your first priority.  Ideally, by paying attention to your healthy (exercising daily, going "nutritarian", etc) you can avoid or put off many of the markers of aging in a Western country (namely high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc).  On the other hand, things like vision and hearing loss tend to sneak up on you (you don't know what you can't hear because the decline is so gradual) so keeping up with these types of screenings is imperative.
  9. When you do find yourself at the doctor's you need to advocate for yourself (or have someone do it for you).  Almost without exception, someone going to the doctor for a common Western disease is going to be handed a stack of prescriptions and scheduled for a follow up which means come back for another stack of prescriptions.  I know only two doctors who regularly tell their patients "you are too fat and too sedentary and if you don't get moving you will die" and put the onus on the patient to fix the problem which they created.  Prescriptions have side effects and taking pills to fix the problem while still doing the things that caused the problem in the first place is ludicrous.
  10. Finally, start now (if you are getting up in years, I hope you started some time ago) to plan for your financial future.  What will your income sources be?  What will your expenses be?  How will your investments change as you age?  Do you really need term life insurance now that the kids are grown and you are financially secure?  Where will you live?  How will you take care of yourself when you become old?  

1 comment:

  1. Some good advice up there - thanks for posting it.

    I'd also recommend that the aged person avoid taking unneccessary risks. My mother, who is 77 as of last year, climbed a step ladder for placing Christmas garland around a door opening and lost her balance, falling about 3' feet. She luckily fell on the sofa and then rolled to the floor - but what if that had not been there to break her fall ? Breaking bones is a good way to become bedridden if the bones broken are below the waist. Leave the risky moves to the younger and more spry - its just smarter.

    Thanks again.