Planning for Those Golden Years
I wonder where the term 'golden years' came from to describe those of us who not only have gold in our teeth and silver in our hair, but also some lead in our derrieres. From what I see to date, no gold of any sort accompanies those aches and pains and other little mishaps we oldsters seem to face more and more frequently.
Case in point: about a month ago I slipped on a patch of ice in my back yard and fell splat on my back. It has taken those four plus weeks since my crash for the muscles, ligaments, and ribs on my right side to heal enough so that I feel I have nearly returned to pre-accident form. I certainly received no gold of any sort as a result of this unfortunate incident.
However, the fall also made me pause for thought. These golden years have a lot of pitfalls. What if I had broken a hip, or a leg, or my back, and become incapacitated? How would I cope? My golden years haven't provided me with a plethora of spare cash, so how would I live if something devastating happened to me? The future holds two very real potential pitfalls, the state of my finances as well as the state of my health.
All of us face advancing age with different viewpoints and different wants and needs. My parents moved to a senior living facility that provided total care. Most residents started out living independently in the village (which my siblings and I dubbed Geezerville). As situations changed for individual residents, they could move to an apartment that provided some assisted living, then if and when the time came, they moved to a hospital bed. This set-up ideally suited my mother who enjoyed having company and neighbors close by, appreciated the opportunity to enjoy a cottage living situation without the maintenance or grounds keeping, but at the same time, knew that immediate help was a simple phone call away. This setup provided her with security and safety. Geezerville suited my mother perfectly.
A senior living center like that might appeal to my older sister as well, but it would not work for me, my brother, or my younger sister. Besides, I know very well I could not afford those living conditions. My golden years have not manifested enough gold for that scenario.
Besides, I want to age at home, live in my own house for as long as I can. However, that means I need to plan, to think ahead, and to try to anticipate how my needs might change with advancing age.
With very little gold to back us up, my husband and I have already put plans in place for our future. We have our current home on the market, and when it sells, we plan to move a small cabin to a five acre lot we purchased just outside of Virginia City. We expect this move will lower our taxes, slash heating costs in half, demand less money for maintenance and repairs, and get us in the financial mindset required for living on a reduced income. I still hope to retire from working full time before I reach the age of 90 and have begun to drool.
Striking a reasonable balance between what I want now and what I might want or need in the future can sometimes prove a tad difficult. My brother-in-law, after hearing our plans and seeing the layout of the cabin we plan to purchase, inquired if we really wanted a loft at our age. I thought about that question for a nanosecond and replied that yes I do. At this point in my life a loft presents no obstacle for me and it is a feature I always wanted in a cabin. Negotiating a loft may become dicey in ten years, but I want to enjoy it while I can. If a loft becomes out of the question down the road, then I just won't utilize that space. I can live the life I want all on the ground floor of our little home. I figure that yes I need to plan for older age and the pitfalls it will present, but I also want to live and enjoy what I have now. If a loft tickles my fancy and I can still easily handle the steps, then why not?
There is only so much we can do to plan ahead. Financially, we can save every possible penny, we can and will downsize, cut out unnecessary expenditures, and take delight in what we have and in the small pleasures that come our way.
Health-wise, we can only do our best to maintain our vigor. We eat properly, exercise well, and follow basic safety and common sense activities. I have always been healthy and plan to remain that way, but we don't usually have much say about what might befall us physically.
I have no idea how to plan for the eventuality of poor health, other than keep paying health premiums. I can only plan so far financially as well. After all, I no longer have thirty working years ahead of me. I have what I have at this point, and I can only cut back, make do, get my cabin outfitted for the future, and live within my means.
After all, unless I win the lottery, I will not be showered with gold in the coming years. I want to live fully and well, I want to continue to enjoy life, but I also want to afford to eat when I reach 90, if I should live that long. My crystal ball has proved unreliable, so I can only plan, make decisions based on all the information I have at the moment, and hope for the best.