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Retirement Your Way: Looking at Options

While it is true that the average life expectancy for American males is just over 73 years and almost 80 for American females, what many don’t realize is that additional life expectancy increases as we age.

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What issues should i consider before i retire?

While it is true that the average life expectancy for American males is just over 73 years and almost 80 for American females, what many don’t realize is that additional life expectancy increases as we age. An American man at age 70 can generally expect to live another 15 years, and an American woman of the same age will reach age 87, on average. Of course, these are averages; some will not live this long and others will live even longer.

But the latter years of retirement will typically look different for most than the early years. A healthy, active 65-year-old has different expectations and abilities than someone in their early 80s who may be dealing with one or more of the medical conditions that often accompany advanced age. For this reason, it’s important, as part of planning for a full and secure retirement, to begin considering various options for how life in one’s 80s and 90s might be structured.

Two of the most common modes for the later retirement years are aging in place and assisted living communities. As with most important choices, neither is “right” or “wrong,” but both come with various advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered.

Aging in Place

Those who opt to age in place intend to remain in their own homes in their later years, and the reasons for this are probably obvious: familiarity with the surroundings, maintenance of established neighborhood ties, and perhaps an increased feeling of independence. For this and other reasons, 76% of Americans age 50 and over said they hoped to remain in their homes after retirement, according to a 2018 AARP survey.

But aging in place also requires a certain amount of planning and preparation, some of which may be a bit costly. For one thing, falling and tripping hazards become a greater concern with advanced age and decreasing mobility. Area rugs and carpets, while attractive decorating features, can also get tangled in the feet and cause serious injury. If the home has two stories or more, will you still be able to climb the stairs at age 85? And speaking of stairs, what about front steps? You may need to consider installing handrails or, in some cases, wheelchair access.

What about lighting? “Mood” lighting in living areas is popular, but for those whose vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be, better illumination may be a smarter choice. If bathtubs and showers don’t have “grab bars,” they should probably be installed, since bathtub slips are a major cause of fall injuries for older adults. You may even want to consider installation of a walk-in tub or shower.

The point is, if you plan to age in place, you should take a careful inventory of your home, looking for modifications that might be required to make it safer and easier to navigate. Consider consulting a qualified contractor who can provide cost estimates for the necessary changes or remodeling. Advance knowledge of what could be required will allow you to plan for the needed changes and the expenses that will go along with them.

One more consideration: estimates are that as many as 70% of those age 65 today will need long-term care at some point in their lives. If you plan to age in place, it is possible that at some point you will need to provide for the cost of a home healthcare aide to meet this need. Since the cost of such care can exceed $5,000 per month, careful financial planning is necessary to ensure that if the need arises, the expense is in the budget.

Assisted Living Communities

Many older seniors opt for transitioning to an assisted living community: a facility that offers various support services for older individuals, including prepared meals, living facilities designed for easier and safer access, planned social activities, and other amenities. Obviously, facilities differ in what they offer and how much it costs, so those considering this option should allow plenty of time to visit different locations, inquire about pricing, get a feel for the surroundings, and consider the necessary preparations for moving from their home to the facility.

Typically foremost in these preparations is downsizing. Depending on the size of the living space provided, it’s unlikely that the entire contents of the home will fit in the available space. To prepare for this step, you should obtain an accurate floor plan for the space you’ll be occupying. It’s probably a good idea to take pictures, especially if you’ve visited several facilities—details can get hazy. Have a clear understanding of what services are being provided, as this will impact your decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. For example, if the facility provides all meals, you won’t need many pots, pans, or utensils. On the other hand, if your living space features a kitchenette, you may want to take your own coffee pot and mugs.

Facilities also differ in the level of assistance they offer. Persons who still have good mobility may not need the same type of services as those who are wheelchair-bound or have other mobility challenges. Persons with certain types of medical conditions may require more advanced healthcare assistance than others. The key here is to understand what the facility offers and how much it costs.

At Milestone Money, we understand that there are many decisions involved in planning a secure, satisfying retirement. We want you to know as much as you can about all the various options for each stage of your retirement. To learn more, visit our website to read our article, “Financial Planning for Your 80s: Things to Keep in Mind.

What issues should i consider before i retire?

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Retirement Your Way: Looking at Options

While it is true that the average life expectancy for American males is just over 73 years and almost 80 for American females, what many don’t realize is that additional life expectancy increases as we age.

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Life is full of financial milestones. We pay for college, we get married, we start businesses. But the most important financial decision we will ever make is when and how to retire. Milestone Money helps you map success to and through retirement.

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