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Aging Well: Make the Investment Now

by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

Groucho Marx once said: “Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”

Aging well, in contrast, is an entirely separate art that involves planning, getting clear on your own definition of the “good life” and self-care.

Making these investments in your life now can yield a life that continues to be satisfying, rich and active…well into your “golden years.”

Say the word “retirement” and images pop up like post cards: hammocks, gardens, more time for hobbies, motor home at the Grand Canyon, spending more time with your family, finally seeing Paris. If you’re still in the planning stages for retirement, note that the key word here is “plan.”

Ask yourself several questions like these: Would I like to live closer to family or the ski slopes or the tropics? What have I always longed to do? How will retirement affect my monthly budget? When you have the answers, ask yourself: What do I need to do now to prepare? For example, find a financial advisor, project a budget that includes inflation, figure out the cost of travel.

Of course, despite your planning, there’s always the unexpected. While you may not be able to prepare for every situation, the very act of thinking through what you want from life and what’s important to you will help you weather challenges with greater ease.

Eating good food, getting out in the sunshine every day, healthy sexuality and being active are key ingredients to aging well.

Mental health is another consideration. From menopause to sleep issues, depression to caregiving, getting proper support for your emotional and psychological well-being is an important, but often overlooked, factor in aging well.

Exercise, of course, is a large part of taking care of your body, emotions and mind. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) reports that “people with arthritis, high blood pressure or diabetes can benefit from regular exercise. Heart disease, a problem for many older adults, may also be alleviated by exercise.” Plus, exercise is a proven mood-lifter and a great way to socialize!

Finish this sentence: You can never have enough ______. If you said something besides money, you’re on the right track. Especially if it’s something you plan on being, doing, or having in the future. But if you did say money, you’re on the right track as well. That goes double if you’re a bit fuzzy on how much money you need in order to retire or how much you’ve been investing into your retirement savings every month.

Financial preparation is another key to aging well. In addition to meetings with your financial advisors, consider regular meetings with your loved ones to communicate about your estate planning and end-of-life decisions. While facing the subject may feel taboo or awkward at first, you’ll likely discover that these meetings enrich your relationships.

Golden Plan for Golden Years
Of course, there are many other factors to aging well, but the point is to think now, and maybe even daydream a bit, about the road ahead. With thoughtful preparation, your “golden years” truly can last the rest of your life.

Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

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