Plan for less happy part of re­tire­ment

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - ©2017 The New York Times

There’s the re­tire­ment that looks like the com­mer­cials: bik­ing, travel, en­joy­ing the fam­ily.

And then there’s the one where you can’t get up the stairs any­more.

Most of us hap­pily plan for the first, when our health is good and en­ergy high. The sec­ond can be hard to con­tem­plate, when health fal­ters and med­i­cal crises change lives in an in­stant.

Yet a fo­cus on just the ac­tive part of re­tire­ment can short­change your qual­ity of life once you be­gin to de­cline, which is why fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers sug­gest you also look at how you’ll live in that later phase.

Here’s what you should con­sider for that sec­ond stage.

Cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner Dana Anspach of Scotts­dale, Ari­zona, doesn’t want her clients to pre­ma­turely give up their homes or make other moves that may not suit them. One cou­ple she ad­vised, for ex­am­ple, moved into a con­tin­u­ing care com­mu­nity — one that in­cludes in­de­pen­dent liv­ing, as­sisted liv­ing and nurs­ing home care — in their 80s and moved back out again a year later be­cause they couldn’t en­ter­tain or dec­o­rate their apart­ment the way they wanted. (They used their re­funded de­posit to buy a condo and had enough money to pay for in-home care.)

Anspach also has heard hor­ror sto­ries of el­ders who stayed too long in un­safe con­di­tions un­til health crises pro­pelled them into the hos­pi­tal — and left their fam­i­lies scram­bling to deal with the costs, their care and what to do with the fam­ily home.

The key, plan­ners say, is to start think­ing and talk­ing about how you want to cope when your health be­gins to fail.

“You have so many more op­tions if you plan ear­lier and set up the tra­jec­tory of where you’re want­ing to go,” says Danielle Howard, a fi­nan­cial plan­ner in Basalt, Colo.

Howard starts with the some­what eas­ier de­ci­sions, such as whom the clients want to make med­i­cal and fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions should they be­come in­ca­pac­i­tated. Then the dis­cus­sion moves to the harder top­ics — imag­in­ing life when they can’t nav­i­gate stairs or han­dle daily ac­tiv­i­ties such as dress­ing or bathing them­selves.

Could they stay in their home? Who will pro­vide their care, and how will they pay for it?

Anspach ad­vises clients who don’t have long-term care in­sur­ance or fam­ily mem­bers will­ing to pro­vide care to save their home equity for such ex­penses, rather than us­ing it to boost their re­tire­ment in­come.

If par­ents do ex­pect chil­dren to help, Anspach says, they need to make sure the kids are on board and that those kids’ lives are sta­ble enough to pro­vide care if the par­ents move closer.

Par­ents also should con­sider how they can make things eas­ier for their care­givers, says Ed Vargo, a fi­nan­cial plan­ner in Cleve­land.

His mother-in-law, Rose For­rester, un­der­stood those dy­nam­ics well. Be­fore she re­tired three years ago, For­rester was a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist who pro­vided in-home care to older pa­tients. For­rester and her hus­band, Dan, be­gan to talk about what they should do to make things eas­ier for them­selves and their kids in com­ing years. Nei­ther wanted to leave their home of four decades, but both re­al­ized its stairs and lay­out would be tough to nav­i­gate some­day. The cou­ple moved to a one-level, ranch-style home three years ago, when he was 68 and she was 66.

Vargo is now talk­ing with his fa­ther about mov­ing closer.

“There’s a ten­dency for peo­ple to tell other peo­ple what they should do. That doesn’t re­ally work,” Vargo says. “Have a dis­cus­sion, share your con­cerns, but be pa­tient.”

Sin­gle, child­less and 68, Steven Gold has be­gun to think about fu­ture mo­bil­ity and in­de­pen­dence. Although in good health, he can fore­see a time when he won’t be a con­fi­dent driver, if he can drive at all. While he hopes to con­tinue to live in his sub­ur­ban Detroit home, he won­ders how he will be able to get to places like his doc­tor’s of­fice and the su­per­mar­ket if his driv­ing be­comes im­paired.

For Gold and other older adults, self-driv­ing cars might be a so­lu­tion.

The num­ber of U.S. res­i­dents age 70 and older is pro­jected to in­crease to 53.7 mil­lion in 2030, from 30.9 mil­lion in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute for High­way Safety. Nearly 16 mil­lion peo­ple 65 and older live in com­mu­ni­ties where pub­lic trans­porta­tion is poor or nonex­is­tent. That num­ber is ex­pected to grow rapidly as baby boomers re­main out­side of cities.

“The ag­ing of the pop­u­la­tion con­verg­ing with au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles might close the com­ing mo­bil­ity gap for an ag­ing so­ci­ety,” said Joseph Cough­lin, di­rec­tor of the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute for Tech­nol­ogy AgeLab in Cam­bridge.

He said that 70 per­cent of peo­ple older than 50 live in the sub­urbs, a fig­ure he ex­pects to re­main steady de­spite a re­cent rise in moves to ur­ban cen­ters. Fur­ther, 92 per­cent of older peo­ple want to age in place, he said.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your en­gage­ment. First, lux­u­ri­ate in the news be­fore you freak out that your guest list can fill a 500-line spread­sheet. Fid­dle with your en­gage­ment ring in dis­be­lief, day­dream about mar­ried life, cel­e­brate with friends and fam­ily.

No doubt, vi­sions of pricey per­fec­tion will soon bom­bard you. You’ll learn the av­er­age U.S. wed­ding cost $35,329 in 2016, ac­cord­ing to The Knot’s Real Wed­dings Study. But the re­al­ity is that a few lav­ish cel­e­bra­tions drive up the av­er­age. A solid 44 per­cent of U.S. wed­dings in 2016 cost less than $10,000, ac­cord­ing to The Wed­ding Re­port, a wed­ding re­search com­pany.

Let go of ev­ery­one else’s ex­pec­ta­tions, cre­ate a thought­ful, re­al­is­tic bud­get and plan

Cough­lin said on-de­mand ser­vices like Uber and Lyft were vi­able al­ter­na­tives to au­ton­o­mous cars, but are not avail­able in many ar­eas where older adults live. Although these com­pa­nies of­fer lim­ited appfree ser­vices, some older peo­ple are wary of rid­ing with strangers and be­ing able to iden­tify the right ve­hi­cle. Gold said such ser­vices were too ex­pen­sive for reg­u­lar use.

A re­cent study led by Maria Tor­roella Car­ney of North­well Health in Great Neck, New York, found that 22 per­cent of baby boomers are now or at risk of be­com­ing el­der or­phans, with lim­ited ac­cess to trans­porta­tion.

Along with other firms, au­tomak­ers in­clud­ing Audi, Gen­eral Mo­tors, Ford Mo­tor, Nis­san, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW are all in the race to re­duce or elim­i­nate the amount of time a per­son in a ve­hi­cle is ac­tu­ally driv­ing.

There are sev­eral lev­els of au­ton­omy, go­ing in stages from driver as­sis­tance to full au­to­ma­tion. For ex­am­ple, by 2020 Honda is aim­ing to bring to mar­ket a ve­hi­cle with a high level of au­to­mated ca­pa­bil­ity in high­way sit­u­a­tions. By year’s end, Volvo plans to put highly au­to­mated XC90 ve­hi­cles in the hands of real-world driv­ers in Swe­den as part of its Volvo Drive Me pro­gram.

Within the next four years, BMW hopes to have cars on the street with mid-level au­to­ma­tion. BMW and other com­pa­nies are also work­ing on driver­less pro­to­types that have no steer­ing wheel, brake or gas pedal.

Still, a world in which fully au­to­mated cars are com­mon re­mains many years away.

BRIT­TANY GREE­SON / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Steven Gold, 68, is be­gin­ning to think about his fu­ture mo­bil­ity. He won­ders how he will be able to get to places like the su­per­mar­ket if his driv­ing be­comes im­paired.

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