Joseph Coughlin, PhD, founder and director of the MIT AgeLab, formulated three very simple questions that you may ask yourself to determine if you (or a family member) are prepared to live well in retirement. Here are his questions:
Who will change my light bulbs?
Changing a lightbulb sounds simple enough – but is it an easy task for your father or mother who may be in their 80s or 90s? As seniors age, they may not have as much help at home. Changing lightbulbs is more than an issue of home maintenance. Not being able to change a lightbulb is an example of losing your independence as a result of age and declining health. Tasks that were once easy to complete, may be significantly harder or more dangerous. Part of the planning process will be identifying who will help with these types of tasks and what costs are involved in completing them. Questions like these should be factored into your retirement planning.
How will I get an ice cream cone?
American Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar stated, “There is a difference between standard of living and quality of life. Quality of life is more important.” A fundamental component of your quality of life is having the ability to easily and routinely access little experiences that bring enjoyment into your life – much like getting an ice cream cone on a hot summer night.
While most small enjoyments like an ice cream cone don’t cause financial strain, they do raise questions about having adequate transportation and being able to access those things that bring enjoyment. If driving is no longer feasible, perhaps there are alternatives such as using a senior ride service or Uber and Lyft. If not being able to drive keeps you from doing things that increase your quality of life, perhaps moving to a community where there are plenty of activities and people that will keep you engaged and active should be considered.
Who will I have lunch with?
This question is an indicator of your social network (not the kind that is online!). Lunch may be something you do on a regular basis with friends that helps you stay connected.
More than 40% of women over 65 years old live alone in the United States. Planning for where you retire may be more important than how much it will cost. Isolation and the feeling of loneliness is not healthy as you age, so consider living in communities that may provide easy access to interact with people that help you live well in retirement.
Retirement planning is about more than just finances. It’s important to consider the above questions when planning for retirement, to ensure your quality of life. CCMI can help you understand how these questions may impact you and the associated costs as part of the financial planning process.
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