They say 50 is the new 30. Or is it 60 is the new 40? Either way, those closing in on retirement are largely still in the prime of their lives—with all the dreams, goals and plans that come with it.
To live the life of retirement that affords these goals, however, requires thinking about and planning for the future. It’s never a fun endeavor, when contemplating one’s own end of life, but it is increasingly important: People are living longer, the healthcare system continues to undergo changes and the options in housing, hobbies and activities for older adults grow apace.
Having a financial plan is key. Ideally, many will already have 401(k) or other retirement savings accounts, but there are a number of other financial considerations to be made, according to Josh Scheinker, the senior vice president of investments for Scheinker Investment Partners.
Scheinker says people should consult a financial planner to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investments. However, there are also a few ways he recommends getting started.
Mainly, each person should identify how much income he needs to live his ideal life.
People should also regularly invest in their retirement funds, he says, especially if they’re not planning to retire for a few years yet. And, crucially, everyone needs to plan for the long-term.
“Portfolios are geared towards retiring at 65, but should be geared towards ‘I’m going to die at 95,’” Scheinker says.
The baby boomer generation—the ones most often in this age bracket—are very different from previous retiring generations, says Jen Holz, the associate state director of outreach for AARP in Maryland.
“You’re not sitting on the rocker out on the front porch anymore,” she says.
In her experience, those from this generation want to continue to contribute—do more traveling, advocate for an important issue or start a new business.
Probably the biggest consideration for almost everyone looking at retirement is health care. Ensuring sufficient insurance coverage is critical, as is being proactive, says Dr. Steven Gambert, chair of the department of geriatric medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The best things someone of this age can do for their health, he says, are quit smoking, start an exercise regimen, eat more healthfully, ensure vaccinations are up-to-date and wear sunscreen.
Arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease are among the major health issues Gambert says he sees from patients on a regular basis. Just being aware of your body can go a long way.
“If you don’t feel yourself for any reason, get it checked out,” he advises. “Don’t assume it’s necessarily aging.”
The old adage, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applies across the board for mental, physical and sexual health, Gambert addss.
Many couples these days are choosing to “age in place,” according to Holz, meaning they are modifying their homes, downsizing in the same area or moving to an active adult community.
The active adult communities have become a popular option for many. The Villages at Two Rivers in Odenton opened a little more than a year ago and already has 125 homeowners.
Those coming into these communities tend to be drawn to the convenience and low-maintenance lifestyle. At Two Rivers, for instance, lawn care and snow removal is taken care of. Additionally, there is a clubhouse which offers a fitness center, library, billiards and demonstration kitchen, among other amenities.
Dennis and Donna Kaler, who are 63 and 60, respectively, went a different route and chose to sell their house in Catonsville to their son and add on a space that was just for them. Donna retired early, in part to help care for her aging father, and Dennis plans to work for a couple more years.
They’ve planned for this. They’ve saved money, Donna is a committed budgeter, Dennis has a small pension from working for the city of Baltimore, and they have an expansive health insurance plan. But no one can predict the future.
Things are always changing, Donna says. They try to keep up on what’s happening and are sure to put any significant changes in writing. The worry is always that they might outlive their money, but, at the end of the day, they know what’s important:
“Don’t forget to live,” Dennis says.
“You’ve got to enjoy your life,” Donna agrees.