“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Proverb
When people think of planning for their later years, they think about saving for retirement. This is great, but it is not enough. Planting a tree requires thinking about water, soil and sun. People have more diverse needs. They need food, clothing, shelter, and health care. But they also need to fill their psychological needs. Some need something to do, a purpose in being, a goal. This may be harder to plan for, but it is important none the less.
I sat down and spoke to a small group of ladies recently about their planning for retirement. When they were young and able, their hope was to use their later years to travel. Their bucket list consisted of so many places to go. One noted that she wished she invested earlier such as like-minded friends did so that she could have traveled more.
Now of these three ladies, one is still on the young side. She very much still wants to travel. With some health concerns, this will require a lot more planning on her part and help from family, but it is the one thought that helped her recuperate from a recent hospitalization.
The other two ladies are in their nineties. While their traveling days are coming to an end, they are not completely over. Gone are the days of Hawaii and Austria. Now they look forward to time at the Cape or in Maine. They also look forward to the quiet time. They enjoy simple pleasures like a card game with friends or some time to crochet.
Regardless where you are in life, everyone needs to think about what they want out of life and how they can accomplish their goals. So, with the goal of making yourself accountable, please call in, write in, or email me a few of the special items on your bucket list. I will devote an upcoming article to the creative and purposeful items that I hear about.
Are you writing the great American novel? Is your goal to see your grandson graduate? Did you want to travel to Africa? Are you rounding out your music collection? Is your one goal to remain upbeat? To be involved in your family? Tell me what you want to do and why.
Tell me your age. Are you just retiring now? Do you have a plan? Are you 100 plus years old and still have goals? Have you done everything on your bucket list? Did you have a plan when you retired? Which item brought you the greatest joy and why?
I believe strongly that what elders want is vitally important to know. It will help families and caregivers think about you in terms of what you are still capable of doing and it will help invigorate the next generation to plan. We may not have enough time to enjoy the tree that will grow as we age, but we need to plant it anyhow.
Marianne Delorey, Ph.D., is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or firstname.lastname@example.org and www.colonyretirementhomes.com.