Recently I took some time to look at my earliest blog posts here at myLifeSite. I almost couldn’t believe it when I noticed that our first post was written over eight years ago! I still remember sitting in a Jason’s Deli in Raleigh, N.C., and thinking I would give this blog thing a try.

In reading over that post recently, I discovered that the topic I wrote about, which I am revising and updating below for today’s post, is something I still discuss frequently in many of the talks I give across the country.

What is “Retirement Planning” Anyway?

(Originally written 2/11/2013; revised 5/3/2021)

The term “retirement planning” is something we read and hear about often. For some, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear this term is the idea of planning and saving for retirement. For others, it may be more about income strategies and tax-planning during the retirement years. And still for some, it may have less to do with money and be more about the psychology of transitioning into retirement following decades in the working world. Clearly, “retirement planning” is a broad topic.

No matter which of the categories above you might fall in to, I would like to encourage you to consider some overlooked but important perspectives.

>> Related: 4 Must-Dos of Retirement Planning

Care planning as a part of retirement planning

It’s no secret that people are living longer today than ever before. (Although life expectancy in the U.S. has taken a slight dip most recently as a result of coronavirus.) A 70-year-old in the U.S. today can expect to live another 17 years on average, with many living well into their nineties and beyond.

With increasing life expectancy comes a greater need for a proactive and more comprehensive approach to planning for the later phases of retirement. And while this topic has received greater focus in recent years among consumers and advisors alike, it remains a neglected area of planning for many.

As a society, we are still quite reactive in our approach to addressing the lifestyle and healthcare needs that we may face in our later years. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore the realities of what our future could bring, instead waiting until a significant health event occurs and then trying to figure it all out on the fly. This tactic often leads to what many describe as “crisis mode,” when the burden of “figuring it all out” falls on adult children or other family members who may not have the resources, flexibility in schedule, or emotional capacity to take on such a task.

Of course, it’s also important to recognize that as a result of higher divorce rates, there are more “solo-agers” today than ever before. While divorce rates overall have declined in recent years in the U.S., the rate among those age 50 and over continues to increase. In fact, between 1990 and 2010, the so-called “silver divorce” rate doubled. Add to this the number of seniors who, either by choice or circumstance, are without adult children to care for them as they age, and you can see why the caregiving crisis likely will worsen in the coming years.

>> Related: Pre-Crisis vs. Post-Crisis Planning: Confronting Life’s Unknowns

Housing: Another overlooked part of retirement planning

When you consider some of the most common concerns among adults — including serious health concerns, social isolation, maintaining purpose, or becoming a burden on children — you realize that a truly comprehensive and holistic retirement plan goes beyond just the financial aspects of retirement planning. There are also important housing considerations that must be made to ensure you can remain as independent as possible, safe, and happy.

Consider serious health concerns, for example. The environment in which a person lives has an impact on personal wellness: the community (or lack thereof in some cases), the safety of the home, lifestyle habits, and more.

And if serious health problems do arise — especially if unexpectedly as the result of a fall, stroke, heart attack, or other health problem — the environment in which a person lives will play a big role in determining what that situation might look like and the extent to which family would need to be involved to provide care and support.

Indeed, when you think more holistically about what a retirement plan includes, you realize that housing (where you live today and also in the future) is a very important part of your plan.

>> Related: The Value of a Solid Support System During Retirement

A resource for your planning

At myLifeSite, we are passionate about seeing our society become better-educated on the various retirement living and long-term care alternatives. This includes having the necessary discussions with family members and valued advisors about what you might want for your future, but also keeping an open mind and considering all of the options.

We encourage a proactive approach by planning ahead, to the extent possible, for the later phases of retirement. You can begin by taking time to learn the differences between aging at home versus moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community) or some other type of retirement living choice. For more information, be sure to visit the learn page on our website.

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