By Brenda Lecco and Kathi Ridner, Care Managers, One Senior Place

As Care Managers at One Senior Place, Kathi and I have counseled hundreds of seniors in various stages of retirement planning.  What we have discovered is that although you don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy your retirement years, you do have to think about your ideal retirement BEFORE you actually retire.  For illustration purposes, here are two scenarios that frequently present themselves at One Senior Place.

Jane Smith is 85.  She’s a widow who lives alone.  Last year she broke her hip so she doesn’t get around well enough anymore to drive herself to the doctor, grocery shopping or to church.  She uses the payment from her long-term care insurance policy to help pay for in-home senior care services – in this case, a private duty home health aide to help her do those things she just can’t do anymore.  Eventually, Jane realizes, she will have to go into assisted living and maybe even a nursing home depending on how quickly her health declines.  The pneumonia she had last year brought with it a realization that things can change quickly and unexpectedly when you’re older.  Luckily, her husband’s pension and their annuities will pay for assisted living and with her long-term care policy, she should be okay.  There might even be something left over for the grandkids.

Elizabeth Jones is also 85 and a widow living alone.  She never worked outside the home, and her husband took care of everything.  He just passed away last year, and unfortunately his pension didn’t provide for Elizabeth after his passing.  Now at 85, with declining health, she needs some help around the house but just can’t afford to pay for it on her deceased husband’s social security benefits alone.  She’s thinking that maybe his decision to retire at 62 wasn’t such a great idea after all.  What happens when she has to go to a nursing home? Who’s going to pay for it?  These were supposed to be the golden years, but where is the pot of gold?

At first glance you might assume that it’s a matter of financial resources, and you would be correct, it is.  But that’s only half the story.  The most important part of the scenario is that Jane and her husband started planning for their retirement in their 50’s.  They made all the important decisions together and Jane knew exactly what her finances would be like if her husband passed away before her.  Elizabeth and her husband didn’t have a plan; they just decided they would worry about things when they happened.  Elizabeth was shocked both financially and emotionally when her husband passed away unexpectedly and had no idea how to handle the rest of her life.

One Senior Place IS a resource center for seniors.  But we also have a lot of valuable information for the adult children of those seniors, in their 40’s and 50’s, so that you can plan YOUR ideal retirement.  Our staff and resident business professionals include experts in critical areas like senior care services, legal and financial planning, senior living options and much more. They can offer retirement strategies that will make your retirement years the best years of your life.  We also have information and education on long-term care insurance, estate planning and living options.  Growing old in America is complicated and expensive and “hope” is not a plan.  One Senior Place has seminars on “Planning for a Long Life,” sponsored by Genworth Financial and “The Sandwich Generation Series” by The Law Offices of Hoyt and Bryan.