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Volume 34
Fall 2018

Our Generation

The Importance of Planning the Last Third of Your Life

by Chemane Rene’

Chemane Rene’
Chemane Rene’

Choosing your preferences today can help prevent financial losses, unwanted medical interventions and painful conflict between loved ones in the future.

If you are like more than half of Americans 55+ years old who haven’t created a realistic plan for the last third of their lives, don’t fret! It’s never too early – or too late to start talking about your future.

Let's face it, Baby Boomers don't want to talk about growing "old" or needing "help". And if your kids are Gen X'ers, you already know it's hard for them to imagine their folks as fragile. But ignoring this universal fact is a recipe for disaster.

If you are a Baby Boomer (born between the early 40 and the mid 60s) it’s time to start the conversation while you are clearheaded and can clearly share your wishes for the future.

Like most of us, your Gen X children will probably be making many important decisions for you as you age. Don't you feel you should be the one deciding those decisions early on?

Here are just a few statistics confronting unprepared families today:

  • Most adult children (your Gen X children) are completely unprepared to assist in caring for their folks.
  • Over 75 percent of caregivers are women. These are your daughters and granddaughters.
  • 39 percent of these adult caregivers unexpectedly end up leaving their careers to care for loved ones.

Staying Independent

The topic of aging tends to be somewhat ‘taboo’ for families. And I’m talking about intelligent, active, loving families who understand the approaching challenges of aging, yet find it easier to postpone the discussion for fear of scaring the kids or each other! But did you know, 8 out of 10 children desperately want to be involved in their parent’s aging future? They just don’t know how. There are so many areas to cover when it comes to this subject it might seem overwhelming at first. But we’ll gloss over just one topic today: future living arrangements. It’s a topic that gives us the luxury of time, but also has significance when that time comes our way.

Staying at home as we age gracefully is what we all want. And while we don’t have the power to decide when our clocks will stop, there are several things in life we can control right now.

  • Is it important to stay in your own home?
  • What are your thoughts on downsizing or moving to an active community?
  • Do you have the space and budget for a care provider to come into your home should you eventually require one?
  • Will you/your spouse be the caregiver?
  • How will this be financed?

Each family situation is unique, but remember this first and foremost; you are having this conversation so your wishes are understood. Understanding your spouse/partner’s point of view is one thing. It’s another to consider your children’s perspective. Let them know this is your gift to them. They won’t have to guess what you may or may not have wanted. These shared decisions will give everyone the confidence to move forward when necessary.

DID YOU KNOW?

As of 2015, older men were more likely to live with their spouse than older women. In contrast, older women were more likely than older men to live alone. Something to think about as you map out a plan.

Have R.I.C.H. Conversations

Communicate with Respect, Integrity, Compassion and Honor. The goal is for the family to understand and carry out your wishes to the best of their ability, even if everyone is not in agreement.

Planning your life

You see, the burden to take care of you as you get older typically falls on your immediate family. Without thoughtful, smart and mutual conversations before a health crisis hits, this burden can be immense on everyone involved. A simple conversation today can solve so many troubles later on down the road.

With a plan in place you will enjoy a welcome sense of relief, have clarity during an unexpected family crisis, and you will gain direction while caring for an aging family member. Our golden years didn’t come with an instruction manual! Start talking today you and your family will be thankful later.

Chemane is a gerontology specialist with expertise in healthcare and employee engagement. As cofounder of Plan Your Story, she is an advocate for educating families about decisions we will face during the last third of our lives.