By Sharon Longo, Contributing Writer
REGION – Massachusetts had almost 1.1 million residents aged 65 and older in 2020. According to the Elder Index, developed by the University of Massachusetts-Boston Gerontology Institute in 2019, we were second on the list of most expensive states for retirement.
What’s a senior to do?
It is best to plan ahead and prepare for retirement before actually taking the plunge.
AARP suggests saving at least $500,000 for retirement, but a financial planner would be able to provide individualized suggestions according to each person’s situation. Income during retirement should come from a variety of sources, including one’s pension, if applicable, and Social Security as well as any investment or rental income. Some retirees may also choose to work part time. It is important to have money set aside for living expenses, but it is suggested not to risk that money by trying to increase its value. It’s also suggested not to squander money or to be too frugal. If you are living on a budget, designer clothes aren’t necessary, but if the soles of your sneakers are flapping as they walk, buy a new pair of shoes.
It’s also important to look at any health issues that might arise which could lead to in-home care, hospital stays or nursing home costs.
Stay physically and mentally fit
Seniors need to be more vigilant about their health. Keep up with doctor appointments and be aware of the types of foods you eat. Will they raise cholesterol or blood pressure? Are they filled with too much sugar? Check with your doctor before beginning a healthy exercise routine such as doing toning stretches or taking a daily walk. Feeling healthy and fit helps with one’s outlook on life during retirement.
Stay close to others
Being able to visit with adult children and their families is important for maintaining happiness, but all good things must end. If seniors are supporting their financially capable adult children, problems can arise.
It’s also important to have a lot of friends of various ages, backgrounds and interests. Getting to know others outside of one’s career and work provides a plethora of activities in which to partake. Being able to meet with one friend for coffee or a movie, while hanging out with another for a day of fishing or a game night keeps life interesting.
Stick with routines but keep it varied
Retirement is a big change in one’s lifestyle. Certain routines bring a sense of happiness, and it’s good to keep those. For example, if you always woke up at six a.m. to see the sunrise before heading off to work, and that brought a sense of peace to the day, try not to change that habit. However, if the idea of sleeping in a little later makes retirement feel more freeing and beneficial, catch a few more winks with an extra hour of sleep each day.
It is important, however, not to stay complacent with those routines, if you think you can find something of interest that hasn’t been done before. Having a lot of interests or hobbies is also beneficial, and it is important to feel passionate about them. Trying to find those activities you never had time for while working gives a sense of excitement, especially being able to find your identity outside of your career and work life. Many people become associated with the work they do and finding something else that brings pleasure such as reading, gardening or bird watching can help a person break away from that work image.
Know thy spouse
As couples near the final chapter of their lives, it’s important to know what the other spouse does. For example, if one spouse handles the finances, they should sit down together and discuss how the bills are paid, and which bills are due when. Couples should talk about where various items are kept, from the life insurance policies to the gardening shed key. Knowing this information early on prevents having to try and figure it all out later on if one of the spouses should experience any cognitive changes such as Alzheimer’s or once a partner is gone.
You’re there; now what?
According to Brad Wright, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) at Launch Financial Planning in Andover, he suggested asking yourself the following questions: Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? Who do you want to do it with?
“Most people plan to get themselves to retirement, but never think about getting through retirement,” said Wright. “Essentially, they’ve saved and invested enough to be able to retire from a financial sense but haven’t given much thought to what they’ll do next.”
“I’ve known a few people who have retired to Florida, only to find out they hate it, and move back,” he explained. “I would suggest trying your new life out before fully committing.”
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