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Five Surprising Opportunities That Aging Creates

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Written by: Nicole SullivanPrism Planning Partners

Change is a constant force in all of our lives. If you’re like most people, you may think that your 60s and 70s will be straightforward: a long slow decline into life passing. On the contrary, there are more options for pre-retirees and retirees than ever before. Here are five of the biggest misconceptions people tend to have about aging, and conversely the most surprising opportunities that spring up as a result.

1. Retirement = Leisure Time, All the Time

Retirement should equal control over your time and destiny. It means that you have financial freedom and do not have to work for money. But it doesn’t mean sitting idly by, doing nothing. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be working. It doesn’t mean that every day will be a vacation.

New retirees are often the “go-to” for family support. Obviously, many retirees help with grandchildren (if they have them). The average cost of daycare in the United States is over $900 per month per child according to Babycenter.com[1]. This is a blessing for millennial parents, many of whom are struggling to pay off their ever-mounting load of college debt.

But watching grandchildren is not a new obligation. What might be is caring for elderly parents. That’s right – more 60 year olds than ever find themselves caring for both grandchildren under 10 and elderly parents in their 80s and 90s. More than one third of people aged 60-74 have a parent who is still alive, which is a radical change from past generations, when most people in their 50s did not have a surviving parent.[2]

Retirement does mean more freedom but in no way does that translate into less opportunity for work. Embrace it and enjoy!

2. I don’t have anything useful to contribute to the working world

Maybe you’ve burned out of your current job – but that doesn’t mean that you have nothing left to contribute. We often see older adults making a huge impact by passing along the work wisdom they’ve acquired through the years. Instead of grinding through the blood, sweat, and tears yourself, you could consult or work part-time. Every industry needs the experience and guidance of a long-term industry veteran!

If you’re reading this article and you’re in your 40s or 50s, this earlier stage of life is a great time to contemplate a career change. It’s possible that changing careers in your 50s could make you more likely to remain in the same occupation at 65 as someone who stayed put. After all, you’ve just extended your work time horizon tremendously because you enjoy what you do! According to the balance.com, career changing mid-life is better for your longer-term health, having positive effects on your relationships, intellect, and stress levels.[3]

3. I’ll be dead by 80

I hope we all realize that this is a false statement. The average life expectancy in this country is 78.5, according to the World Health Organization.[4] However, this varies greatly by income level, education, and geography. The variance is so great that, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, if you’re in the top 25% of income earners and you do not smoke, your life expectancy could be almost ten years greater than the average.[5]

Just because your parents or older relatives died young does not mean you will! Science is allowing individuals with chronic conditions to stay alive, sometimes with an improved quality of life. Families on the upper end of the economic spectrum can afford better and more frequent healthcare; therefore, they are able to live with previously deadly conditions for in some cases, decades longer than even their parents’ generation.

Related: If You Are Managing Your Aging Parents Finances, Read This!

Related: The Growing Role of Technology in the Longevity Market

4. The government will cover all of my healthcare expenses

So, how are you going to pay for all of this medical attention?

According to a 2018 study conducted by Fidelity, the average healthy 65 year old couple will spend $280,000 in today’s after-tax dollars on retirement healthcare expenses[6]. And, that does not account for a future long term care event, the cost of which is not covered by Medicare. According to Forbes, should you need to enter a nursing home, the 2016 average annual cost for a semi-private room is over $82,000 per person in today’s dollars[7]. Less expensive care options exist (like adult day care or in-home caregivers), but those can still cost upwards of $45,000 a year.

It’s clear that future healthcare expense planning should be carefully analyzed before your retirement is considered “fully funded.” With ever-increasing life expectancies and diminishing government coffers, who knows what true retirement healthcare costs could amount to?

This is nothing like what your parents experienced. Many people continue to work as they age, turning the idea of “leisure” on its head. Some people are able to take on enjoyable part time work that may or may not be paid. But the majority retire only to find themselves back in the workforce.

Yes, you heard me right.

With rising costs for nearly every daily living expense (housing, food, healthcare, etc.), minimal or no pension, and the average American’s paltry savings, 12.5% of people over 65 find themselves working full time and will likely never stop according to an article by The Atlantic.[8]

This may not be such a bad thing, by the way. It may just create the opportunity for better health and longer life expectancy. An article in the NY Times illuminates scientific research that states that working longer may be better for you than retiring early![9]

5. I’m too old to get divorced.

We naturally tend to make excuses when we don’t want to do something, and since nobody wants to go through a divorce, we say things to ourselves like:

  • I don’t want to spend my final years alone (I’m too old to divorce)
  • I’m so used to [this person] by now, I may as well just stay married to him/her
  • Who would want to date me at this age?
  • I can’t survive financially on my own without this person

You should never have to put up with being unhappy in your marriage at any point in life. You are never too old to get divorced. Retirement is supposed to be the golden years. It’s your last shot at happiness –get out there and socialize! If you’re that miserable, what have you got to lose by at least trying single life?

You’re never too old to fall in love, or to be fallen in love with. You’re not the only one who feels this way. There are certainly potential partners out there feeling the same way you do, so go find them!

If financial security is a concern, look at your options. You may be eligible for some of your partner’s Social Security benefit, even if you do divorce. Certain types of accounts such as 401k and IRA accounts do come with certain legal protections, some of which protect these assets from being claimed in a lawsuit. Speak with a lawyer or your financial advisor if this is a concern.

Summary on Financial Aspects of Aging

With longer life expectancy, we now have the ability to live our lives to the fullest even as we advance past what was historically seen as a time of life shutting down. Many people are surprised by how open a time retirement can be. As you age, be open to the many ways that you can enrich your lives and those of others and don’t be afraid to go for it!

Prism Planning Partners, LLC dba Prism Planning Partners is a registered investment advisor in the State of Illinois.  Prism Planning Partners may only offer services or respond to inquiries in states in which they are registered or where an exemption or exclusion from such registration exists.   Prism Planning Partners does not offer legal or tax advice.

[1] https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-much-youll-spend-on-childcare_1199776.bc
[2] https://www.caregivers.com/blog/2014/08/long-term-caregiving-is-a-new-phenomenon/
[3] https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-make-a-career-change-at-50-4154594
[4] http://www.who.int/gho/mortality_burden_disease/life_tables/situation_trends/en/
[5] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/reports/2018/08/06/454149/income-
inequality-life-expectancy/
[6] https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/plan-for-rising-health-care-costs
[7] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/05/10/americans-estimates-of-long-term-care-costs-are-wildly-off/#7e43e1a75180
[8] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/02/pensions-safety-net-california/553970/
[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/business/retirement/working-longer-may-benefit-your-health.html
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