Robert Browning once wrote, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” Today, the average life expectancy in America is 81 for women and 76 for men. But those are averages. The reality is that some people will die earlier and others will live much longer. Those who live longer are not always inclined to celebrate their extended life expectancy. As they grow older, they face daily challenges, such as changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, declining health, reduced mobility, increased isolation, depression and the loss of friends, not to mention dwindling finances.
Consider these facts:
- Today, the average retiree has only $42,000 in savings
- Women retire with 66 percent of the retirement savings of men, live on average six years longer and have greater medical expenses
- 80 percent of women are single during their later years of life
- 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic condition and 50 percent have at least two
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rethinking Retirement in the 21st Century,” from The Huffington Post, May 1, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Review: ‘Caring for Mom & Dad’ on PBS Looks at Elder Care Struggles,” from The New York Times, May 6, 2015.]
A recent study found that intellectual activities, such as playing music or reading, can help ward off Alzheimer’s by an average of nine years. Research shows that people who didn’t attend college benefit even more from such intellectual pursuits.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Social and Emotional Aging,” from National Center for Biotechnology Information, accessed May 8, 2015.]
Another key aspect of aging is to continue making new friends all your life, because as we get older, we begin to lose them. It’s a skill that needs to be exercised or may become latent. Social connections are important not only to ward off isolation and depression — but also to help us cope with the issues we generally face in old age, such as health problems and grief.
To this point, be sure to keep vision and hearing loss remedies (glasses and hearing aids) up to date. They’re important to retaining social connections by phone and face to face.
Make the effort to stay current with new technologies, as even these can help with visual and hearing impairments. For example, many smartphones feature voice recognition and allow you to increase font size. Don’t just ask grandchildren to program your phone; ask them to teach you how to do it yourself. Make the effort. Because technology changes so often, we need to learn each new iteration as it comes or we’ll get so far behind that we’re too intimidated to learn anymore. Technology can help keep us connected, and staying connected can enable us to live a higher quality of life.
Remember, there’s no advantage to a longer life if we no longer enjoy it.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Senate asks industry for aging in place technology cost savings data,” from Mobi Health News, May 7, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Smart apartment technology could be future of elder care,” from ABC WFAA, May 7, 2015.]
Some studies have correlated volunteering with higher levels of physical and cognitive health, fewer depressive symptoms and a longer lifespan. Consider that you don’t have to become an entrepreneur when you’re older, but you can certainly help one. Seek out young adults with good ideas and support them with your wisdom and knowledge. Offer to help out in their shop or place of business, or look after their children while they get their idea up and running. Sure, it will help them, but more importantly it can help you.
[CLICK HERE to read, “Volunteering Work for Boomers, Seniors & Retirees,” from RetiredBrains.com, accessed May 8, 2015.]
To live a high-level quality of life, we must continue to be able to change. It’s the hardest thing to do, especially as we age. Planning and flexibility are key. We can help you with the planning part; you can work on the flexibility. As always, we’re here for you.
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