This is personal! Yes, it’s about you! I’d be willing to wager, however, that most of you haven’t thought about…YOU, YOUR wishes, YOUR hopes, YOUR dreams!
As many of you know I have been serving older adults and their families for quite some time. Over the years I have heard the same question over and over from caregivers: “What’s next?”, “How do I make plans for me while caring for my parents?”, “I’ve spent my life doing what’s expected, I don’t know what I want to do” and so on.
Hint: Think like a carpenter!
Do you have kids that are perhaps just now launching? You have a lot of experience to call upon to help them get the technical training for a career, pick the right college and get accepted. You also have a pretty good sense of how to support them as they embark on a career track. And all of this happens when you should also be planning your own launch. Launch what? Well, launch your pre-retirement, your retirement and more. For your kids you’ve had educational and on the job experience to help you help your kids. For your next phase of life, you can’t draw on experience you don’t have. In fact, 32% of adult Americans haven’t even saved money for the years ahead when they will not be bringing home a paycheck any longer.
Question: What’s your plan?
Recently I was speaking with a friend who expressed her need to figure out what the future holds for her and her husband. Her caregiving duties were finished and her children were wrapping up their high school years. She said “We don’t know what it’s like to think about ourselves…we’ve been married so long, we’ve been parents so long and now our caregiving responsibilities have ended…what am I to do with my time?”, “What are we going to do?”
My friend was, in effect, asking for “pre-retirement” planning…a plan for how to live well in the next phases of life…a “Live Well Blueprint.” When we’ve been younger, we would ask ourselves what we want to be when we grow up. The question doesn’t change that much as you are on the brink of the empty nest. What do you want to be as you grow older? Your answer is a personalized approach to helping you identify “What’s next” according to what is important to you. It’s an opportunity to explore your wishes, hopes and dreams and create a plan that reflects your values and helps you define steps you can take to create your best life.
There are answers to “What’s next”. With the “Live Well Blueprint” you are now a carpenter with a Blueprint, a plan that will get you to your goal…whatever that goal may be. Your own “Live Well Blueprint” can not only plan your future and look forward to the possibilities ahead of you, but when life presents challenges you can address them and still keep moving forward. It’s your insurance policy for your happiness and security; it’s giving yourself permission to have an amazing next stage of life. If you have been putting off your dreams, it’s time to think about yourself.
Answer: Give yourself permission to dream.
Give yourself permission to dream about what’s possible. Factor in your values, your interests, your dreams. Perhaps think of a role model, and see if their path can also be yours. Try it out. If it isn’t exactly what you had hoped, that’s the beauty of a Blueprint…you can adjust it and try again…multiple times. If your health needs change, the Blueprint can be revised to support your health, your autonomy, your safety and your dignity.
It’s time to live your best life … with a plan. Live well!
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, Creative Care Management, a team 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.