By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy: I just retired and my kids want me to babysit my granddaughters, my husband wants to by an RV and I just want to rest for a while. What do your seniors say?
They say, “None of the above!”
After talking to so many seniors about their early retirement; lots have told me that’s where they made some errors in judgment, just because of the reasons you stated. Everyone else has ideas for you and you have to be the one to make the decisions about your own life path. All these years you have done things for a work, home, family, children, spouse – now it’s YOU time.
So here are some tips to follow and see where they lead you:
- Do not make a big move in your first 6mos -1yr of retirement. Just let the dust settle. If you really have a move in mind, spend that time sorting your old life and selling things from the house and getting your mind in a place that you can walk away without regret.
- If you do move keep one foot on your home base. Lots of seniors run down to sunny climates and begin their play time. Nothing wrong with that, but if you become unwell, lose a spouse or just age to the point you need assistance (we all do you know) then what? Will your children or family be able to care for you miles and miles away? So, the idea is maybe keep a small home, condo or even some things you do not want to move in a storage unit. That way you can rent them out to make the payments and then have a place (or things) that are easy to return to if you need to make that change in the future.
- If you do go on an RV trip, keep your home. I have talked to dozens of RV’rs that love their life. But they have been so upset making a complete cut from their things back home. It sounds great to just hit the road, but in time, you will want to settle in somewhere. If you keep your things in storage you can retrieve them at will. If you need to settle into an RV park most find a trailer is easier for long term living than a motor home. If you have plenty of money, no worries, but those that I talked to were on a very strict budget and it was hard for them to change their mind in mid-stream.
- Think things through for a 5-10-20 year plan. You may think that a good ten years of retirement is what you will get in life. But the world is changing more and more folks live into their 100’s. You need to sit down with family and have a plan:
Example: 5yr/stay in family home and travel in RV – 10 yr/Purchase a home that is long term retiree – 20yr/know that you may need assistance to stay in your home, or move to a retirement center, small apartment or live with your children. Think about your choices and what you want will be able to afford.
- Prepare your future first: Get your will, your health care directive and insurance papers all in order, copied and give to your children for reference. Get a good inventory program (this one is free http://www.iii.org ) and take pictures of your things from room to room. Use this for insurance and your will gifting or remembrance. Take time to mark your things for family and friends add that listing into your will papers. Talk about your wishes for funerals and get the expenses figured out or prepaid. All of this can be done in the first few months of your retirement and then the nasty subjects of old age are behind you and you can run with the wind at your back.
- Decide what you like to do and do it. Start to make a list for you and with your spouse of things you love to do but really never had time to do. Some call it a “bucket list” – I call it a fun guide of your retirement. Then when you start to hit the road to travel you have your favorite hobbies or interests right by your side to guide you. This should be done in a spiral notebook kept on the counter in the kitchen. Each partner should jot down things they enjoy as they think of them and then in a couple of months sit down and really look at it and see what each of you desires today and in the next few years.
- Talk to your children and set rules about Grand Parents. What are you really willing to do? Maybe a once a week babysit or on sick days you go over and take care of the grand or great grand kids. Maybe one full weekend a month you take the grand children to give your kids a rest. But make the deal your deal. Make it a way to enhance your children’s lives, not make their life easy breezy at your expense. So many seniors work as day care for their kids, but then they get stuck. If you do take on the care giving, add the time frame. I will do this for three months, or every six months we will re-visit this and see how I feel about it.
- Life is short, live it. My mother and dad spent their whole life talking about what they would do when they retired. They had little money and no time, so the future wishes were safe for them to make. The bump? Dad died at 62 and never got to retire. Mother told me she thought she would live just a few years more, but she lived 38 years after he passed. That is a lot of alone time. So, take advantage of retirement while you and your spouse or both well and together. Yes, grandchildren and family are important, but so is your time together.
- Haven’t done anything with each other for a while? Take a class. I find this is the first thing that will bring an older couple together. Dance class, stained glass window class, how to fly fish class, boating safety class- whatever hits your buttons. Maybe each one of you choose and both of you attend both classes. Senior Universities are cropping up all over the country. They’re free classes given in retirement communities by retired professionals with a wide verity of backgrounds. They are fun, they are usually free or nominal and you can really enjoy the information and get a new outlook on life.
- Computer working well for you? Got a Blackberry, know how to text? You might want to find a senior center in your area and join a FREE Computer Club. I worked with a PC Club for years giving free – how-to classes. It was fun for me and fun for my seniors to learn all about the Internet and the new gadgets and just enjoy life online, instead of barely using your computer – Worse yet, think you can live without one? If the world is over taken with computers and gadgets today – what will happen in 10-20 years? You will be older and more of life with revolve around new tech. Get on the band wagon, do not feel dumb, feel empowered with new information and enjoy the connections like Twitter. I am @seniorcaretips on Twitter and its filled with terrific people giving me powerful information about my life and business on a daily basis. Don’t be shy, join us!
- Don’t be embarrassed about “senior” as your new title. So what? Life moves on and you are moving and grooving with it, right? Ask for those senior discounts they make a huge difference in your spendable income. We are using Shari’s web site and George gets his free pie coupons and I get a two for one dinner coupon and their Honor Points. You can find the info on their website https://www.sharis.com/ Just one among many companies that know that senior power means money and they are willing to give discounts and free incentives. Coupons may have seemed below you when you worked and were so busyà now a little clipping for an extra $20-$40 dollar savings on your groceries means you can go out to dinner and still be on budget. Remember, always ask for the senior discount, when buying food, services or products – get in the habit and I will assure you 10-20% will be your min. savings overall. Kool!
- Buying big ticket items turned out to be a no-no for seniors. They thought that a top of the line, new car, all paid for would be perfect for them for the rest of their retirement with less driving. But 10 years down the road they needed a new car. They bought a new RV vehicle instead of a good used one and it deprecated fast. You have to force yourself to think “long term” and live “long term”
- Another problem, new retirees bought a smaller home that was modest for retirement, but did not plan for long term. 10-15-20 years later the roof, the carpet and other major repairs are needed and they do not have the money to make that happen. If you plan a retirement home, make it long term. One story, good flooring that will hold though the years, a safe and easy to use bathroom and shower, a yard that is not too big and a roof and siding that will last. Don’t forget enough bedrooms and baths so you can have a roommate or care giver in the future. Think down the line, when you are older and unable to pack up and make another move. Get your retirement home in place with the idea you may be there till you are in your mid 90’s. You may not have a spouse and be living there on your own. That gives you a different eye on things when you look for your new home.
- Join AARP, they are the largest senior organization and they represent millions of older Americans. They offer lower fees on insurance, medical supplies, and traveling discounts. They have millions using their service so you get discounts that can really keep you aligned for future drops in your income.
- Take a safe driver’s class. I have taught safe driving classes for the last four years. I love them, the seniors that take them get a discount on their insurance and it bubbles up the defensive driving techniques that we all know, but are stored way in the back of our brains. Good for everyone over 50! Don’t forget to add Road Side Service to your insurance listing. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road and pay for a tow or tire change!
- Seniors living with roommates. If you are in a larger home and do not want to move, maybe the idea of a roommate to help with the costs will be just right for you. George and I invited my dear friend into our home. We have a full downstairs with bedrooms and bath. She was on her own and could not afford a lot of rent and with G’s Alzheimer’s we could use the extra income. We now are living as a family and it has been very rewarding for us all. Think on this, it might make a big difference if you are single and want to keep that family home for a few more years!
- Think medical care, do you have long term insurance, do you have your doctors in order and your list of Rx all ready to take with you on the road? Think of things that may not affect you today, but might mean your whole quality of life in a few years. Example: using a nationwide drug store chain for your Rx means you can fill it in any city you visit, instead of trying to have the pills mailed.
- Change your habits over to email and text with a cell phone that will inform you of incoming messages. That way you will stay in touch with people where ever you are located. You could be on a trip to Reno or in your backyard and you will know how to call for help and receive family updates. Buy a GPS Garmin type of gadget that shows you the way home from anywhere in the world. That way you never have to use a map or hear, “Where are we?” again.
- Watch your food intake. Staying at home, by the kitchen, can mean your weight goes up with the amount of easy snacks or boredom. Take up a new walking routine, join the senior center or Y and have fun with a senior exercise program 2-3 times a week. Those things are so good for you and your spouse plus they add new friends to your new way of life.
- Dedicate yourself to having good check-ups. You have been too busy for doctor visits in the past, now that is behind you. Do not be afraid to face your body and what it holds. Living long and living well are two things that need to go together. Get your breast, your heart, your prostate, your colon, your blood pressure checks and figure out how to eat, exercise, and add supplements and medication to keep you as well as you can be. Have a calendar with doctor appointments firmly made ahead of time. So if you travel you can still stay well. Find out if your health insurance covers you in other states and how to use it if you are out of your home area. You may be able to visit other clinics or doctors in cities that will keep you from shortening your travel plans. Get extra travel insurance for health, if you’re going out of country.
Whatever you decide to do, do not sit down and watch TV all day. Get up, keep a daily planner just like you always did and have your days filled with events. Walking, talking, driving – keep that mind working. Volunteer, I mean the kind of volunteer work that really uses your talents, do it with your friend or spouse and do it often. Do it if you travel, every town has needs for a few hours of volunteer work. Retirement is simply leaving your place of employment, not retiring from life. Keep busy, join, help, love, dance, play and write. You are just starting the rest of your life. Mother used to say that you will have time to do anything you want when you retire. She lived forty years of retirement and she traveled, took classes, learned to paint, learned to make dolls, gardened, knitted, baked hundreds of dozens of cookies, played cards with gal pals and still had time to spend with me. At 100 years she passed with a library book half read on her bed side table. Life goes on longer and better than you ever imagined!
Happiness on your new adventure, please do go to my website and enjoy the information for seniors www.seniorcarewithspirit.com. I have my Dear Francy blog information that goes back a long way with loads of tips. I have written a “How to Give Seniors Care- Care giving 101 Workbook” that is designed to help spouses and family care givers with basic home nursing and care information. And I have added a new venture called Loving Memories that is a FREE service that finds just the right senior care facility for your family member.
Thanks for reading and join me with my on demand talk show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/SeniorCareWithSpirit – I have a new one scheduled on this topic and you can read about it and join me live, call in or listen at your leisure on demand. Thanks francy