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A Live Well Retirement is Not Just About Money You’ve Saved

Last week I talked about Ice Cream, Lunch and Light Bulbs as part of a retirement plan.  Those three and more help us to make it tangible what we want to support us logistically, socially and physically as we retire and ultimately face some diminishing of what we have been able to do.  And it’s a plan that can evolve over time; Living Well does not happen without really thinking about it all the way until…until we can’t.

But there also is some paperwork and concept work you should be prepared to do as you look to living well in your next stage of life.  I’m a list person when it comes to travel; I make the list, I check everything off and we head to the airport.  Here’s your Big Picture list:

  • Legalese: You may have prepared a Power of Attorney for both healthcare and finance, but reread what you have to be sure this includes people you trust. This is particularly true if the documents are time stamped with a date you don’t remember. A lawyer whom I respect puts it this way: “Make sure these are people who love you more than they love your money.”  Also, add a Trust document, and make sure your life insurance is titled properly.
  • Medical: Keep a current list of your providers, your medicines and dosages and emergency contacts. Add a Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST is more comprehensive than a Do Not Resuscitate order).  And First responders suggest that copies of all of these be kept in a plastic bag in your freezer…labeled…or some other easily found location.
  • Finance: Most of us will at some age have access to Social Security benefits, but that’s still a bit tight as one’s sole income in retirement. Set aside money in an IRA (or ROTH IRA), or 401K or consider yourself fortunate if you have a pension.  Get professional advice early and each year meet with your financial advisor to review.  Think of it as Save – Spend – Review…rinse, repeat.
  • Dream: What would you like to do? Where would you like to go? I am often a facilitator of this part, but it’s never my dream…it’s yours.  All of this makes for your next year’s plans, and it also makes it a bit easier to get through the doldrums of winter as you anticipate your next adventure…I refuse to call these bucket lists.  Call it a Live Well Blueprint…and when you follow your (not anyone else’s) blueprint, you will live well.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.


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