For many people, the start of a new year is a time to look forward, consider the possibilities that lie ahead, and make a resolution about things you would like to change. Sometimes these New Year’s resolutions are small tweaks you’d like to make to improve some aspect of your life. Other times, they are monumental shifts that you want or need to implement.
If you are a senior who is already retired or who is approaching retirement, and you’ve pondering enacting some positive changes for 2022, there are a few key areas that are worth adding to your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Share your time, talents, and treasure
We all have unique ways we can contribute to the betterment of the world around us, and the new year is the perfect time to start. Plus, several studies have found both physical and mental health benefits for seniors who volunteer with charitable causes they care about.
There are near-countless ways to give of yourself to worthy groups. Tutoring programs, animal shelters, food pantries, blood drives, and community centers — just to name a few — are always looking for committed volunteers.
Not sure where you’d like to offer your time, talents, and treasure? VolunteerMatch is a great place to start your search. They even have filters for “virtual” volunteer opportunities that you can do from the safety and comfort of your home.
Try something new
Want to learn to play the guitar? Take dance lessons? Start watercolor painting? Go hang gliding? Learn Italian? This is your year to resolve to try something new!
Declutter your home
Whether you are ready to downsize or not, most of us could stand to do a little decluttering! Pick a room or area of your home, and assemble the supplies you’ll need: garbage bags, empty boxes, markers, paper towels, and cleaning products. Go through every single item in that room or area and sort things into one of four categories: Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash.
It can be tough to make decisions about keeping or getting rid of some items. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used an item in a year, you probably don’t need it. However, if you feel unsure about an item, put it in the “Keep” box for now with a plan to revisit items in that box in a month to see if you have more definitive feelings about them.
Invite a friend to help, add some fun music into the mix, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a treat (maybe a special dinner or dessert) when you’re done!
Focus on wellness
No matter your age, this is a perennial favorite when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. But the truth is: It’s always a good time to refocus on healthier lifestyle choices.
Maybe you could stand to lose a few pounds, exercise more often, or eat more healthfully. Perhaps you’ve been putting off that trip to the doctor or a preventative healthcare screening. Or it could be that you need to work on lowering your stress level or confronting your anxiety. Whatever wellness area you’ve been neglecting, commit to making a healthy improvement in 2022. It could improve your quality of life or even lengthen your life!
Review and update your legal documents
When was the last time you reviewed your personal legal documents including your power of attorney/healthcare proxy, advance directives, and will? For some, it may have been decades since these important documents were created, and a lot may have changed in that time.
In the simplest terms, a power of attorney gives another person legal authority to make decisions should you become incapacitated, mentally or physically. There are numerous different types of powers of attorney, but no matter which or how many types you have, they should be reviewed periodically to ensure all details are still accurate and reflect your wishes. In most cases, a lawyer should assist you if any updates or amendments are needed on these documents.
Advance directives, sometimes called a living will, are documents that can help guide healthcare decisions made by doctors and loved ones should you no longer be able to voice your wishes for yourself.
If you need to change or update anything on your advance directives, it is best to complete a whole new document and give an updated version to your healthcare providers, attorney-in-fact (from your power of attorney), and other loved ones. States have different laws about witness signatures and/or notarization, but this is typically a document you can create yourself (though some people prefer to consult with an attorney for this document too).
A will allows you to pass along your assets (tangible or monetary) to specific people or organizations after your death. Depending on your particular situation, wills can be very simple or very complex, but regardless, it is wise to review your will periodically to ensure it still reflects your wishes. Always work with an attorney should changes need to be made to a will.
Review your retirement plan, including senior living and care options
Depending on your age, resolving to review your retirement plan could mean different things to you. But generally speaking, it is a good idea to periodically review your retirement savings balance and investment portfolio performance and objectives with your financial advisor. This can help ensure you are still on track to meet your retirement goals — whether that’s to travel, buy a vacation home, leave money to your children, etc.
In addition to the financial side of this equation, it is also a good year to resolve to assess your senior living plan. Do you hope to remain in your existing home for as long as possible, or do you aim to downsize? Are you considering moving to a senior living community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community)?
Your senior living plan is an important consideration when examining your retirement savings. But bear in mind: In addition to housing, your senior living plan should take into account potential care needs. Considering this important topic can save you and your family time, money, stress, and heartache.
This is one of the reasons some people opt to proactively move to a CCRC — which offers a full continuum of care services should you need them — before a health crisis arises. Indeed, it can be difficult to put a price tag on the peace of mind this can bring to some families.
>> Related: CCRCs Help Avoid the “Senior Living Shuffle”
New Year’s resolutions that are worth keeping
Here we are in the prologue of 2022, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering what will be written on the pages of this year as it unfolds. There is a definite air of uncertainty right now with COVID case numbers once again rising, but there is also cause for optimism as the vaccine-booster combination appears to prevent serious illness in the majority of people.
However, no matter what the months ahead have in store for us, 2022 is a great time to implement some of the New Year’s resolution ideas above. Each is important in its own unique way, so pick one, two, or even all of them, and resolve to make some positive changes this year!
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