“I’m not ready” is frequently part of the internal dialogue we have during our lives.
“I’m not ready to leave my family and go to college.”
“I’m not ready to be married.”
“I’m not ready to have a child.”
“I’m not ready for my child to leave for college.”
“I’m not ready to uproot my family for a better opportunity or promotion.”
“I’m not ready to be a grandparent.”
“I’m not ready for retirement.”
However, no matter how many times you felt you were not ready, you prepared and planned until you were ready.
The situation is no different today as you contemplate how to prepare and plan for the rest of your life.
1. Assess your health – physical, mental, financial and spiritual.
2. Set goals and priorities. What do you want your future to be? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? Envision your life as you’d like it to be in 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 years. How do you want to benefit the world after you’re gone?
3. Determine challenges. What do you do if your health suddenly deteriorates or you’re hit by a bus? What do you do if there’s another stock market crash or your savings are depleted? What sort of actions should you take to stay healthy and safe? If you’re married, what do you do if your spouse becomes ill or dies?
4. Develop strategies to meet challenges. If something happens, you will already have put mechanisms in place to take care of it. Planning not only helps others follow your wishes, it takes the burden off your loved ones.
Have your attorney prepare a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney (covers financial matters only), a Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA), and a letter of instruction. You can write the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney yourself if you’d prefer.
Be prepared to name someone to take care of your financial affairs for the Durable Power of Attorney and make healthcare decisions for the Healthcare Power of Attorney. Although many people name family members, you are asking them to make stressful decisions, so consider carefully.
Most people are familiar with elder physical abuse or neglect, but elder financial abuse is rampant. Before you dismiss the thought of your family, a healthcare worker or a Nigerian prince scamming you, consider that some cases involve crooked government officials and officers of the court who ignore POAs to drain the assets of people who become incapacitated. Make sure you can trust your lawyer, and you have your legal documents in order.
Make a final will or trust. In addition to a paper copy, consider getting an electronic copy. That way, you can send it electronically if you wish.
Make a list of the following so someone won’t be rooting through your stuff to find information if you’re incapacitated:
● Bank accounts, life insurance, and passwords
● Credit cards’ names, numbers PINs and passwords
● Vehicle information, including title, maintenance records, and loan documents.
● Social Security number
● Stocks, bonds, investments, titles, retirement accounts
● Safety deposit box location, number and key
● Home mortgage and real estate investments
● Bills, including automatic payments or any special arrangement
● Names and numbers of your attorney, accountant, financial planner, and executor of your estate
The easiest method to keep and easily update information is to store it in a folder on your computer or even in the cloud. To protect your folder, follow simple instructions for a Windows computer and for a Mac. Once the folder is encrypted, it can be uploaded to your secure cloud storage space or even emailed. Now, all you have to do is send a trusted friend or your attorney the password.
You plan everything else in life, so planning to maintain your mental and physical health shouldn’t be difficult. Even if it isn’t yet, it’s getting more difficult as your body changes.
There are four keys to maintaining the best physical and mental health possible:
1. Exercise. Physical exercise is not only critical in maintaining physical health, it’s critical in preventing depression, preventing cognitive decline, and enhancing mood. AARP offers a brain health assessment and brain games to increase neural plasticity, the ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways.
2. Nutrition. You already know how nutrition affects physical health, but it also affects mental health. Nutritional deficiencies, including dehydration, can result in symptoms of depression, anxiety, cognitive malfunction, and more.
3. Attitude affects mental and physical health, and physical health affects attitude. A Johns Hopkins University study found that a poor image of health doubles the risk of death within five years.
4. Choice of residence can actually enhance mental and physical health. For example, a residence choice that promotes socialization and encourages a sense of community, such as an active adult living community, can actually prevent depression and increase health. Some communities actually support adults through all the stages from an active lifestyle to needing a little help to requiring nursing care.