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Elder Care: 10 tips for baby boomers
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Elder Care: 10 tips for baby boomers

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Are you at least 57 and not older than 77? If so, you are a Baby Boomer. This message is for you.

As a person in the middle of the baby boomer generation, I refer to all of us as “middle aged.” Some of us have not yet retired, or maybe never will. Even the oldest among us is younger than 81, which is the average age for first-time claimants of long-term care insurance (LTCI), according to a recent study of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

Social Security’s life expectancy calculator says that the males among us are expected to live to age 86, and the females until age 88. At least with a life expectancy calculator, age is just a number. We all know old people who are younger than 57 and young people who are older than 77.

One thing that is certainly true is that, as life progresses, time seems to pass more quickly. Whether you have 10 years or 30 years remaining, here are things you should make it a point to do in 2021, especially if you have not done so recently:

1. Keep your body moving: Use it or lose it. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Walking has been recommended to me by those who do it, as well as medical professionals.

2. Insurance products: Do you still really need term insurance? Do you have a Medicaid-compliant funeral insurance trust? Make sure that your beneficiaries are up to date. Do not leave benefits to “my estate” or “as per my will.” You should have both a primary beneficiary, which is usually your spouse, and contingent beneficiaries, which usually are your children equally.

3. Read more books/Watch less TV: Reducing the blue light from TV will improve your sleeping patterns. Reading has many cognitive benefits. Reading from an electronic book, such as a Kindle or Nook, allows older eyes to be accommodated with the best fonts and light.

4. Examine long-term care insurance: Some of us might be too old or medically unfit to get LTCI, but if you have not checked it out yet, investigate hybrid insurance, especially if you already own life insurance. If you have LTCI, to prevent cancellation, make sure that you double-check to make sure that you have provided a current, alternate contact to be notified if, for some reason such as poor mail delivery or dementia, you fail to pay your bill when due.

5. Stay busy: Find things to fill your life when you are working less. Play lots of golf, volunteer at a local food bank or find some other activity to be among other busy people.

6. Dust off your foundational documents: Schedule a legal check up to make sure that your last will and testament considers the need for a testamentary trust in case your spouse is in a nursing home when you die, or in case one of your lineal descendants is receiving government benefits that could be lost by receiving a bequest directly. Check your power of attorney document to make sure it includes updated language to permit wealth preservation. Have you named a backup agent in case your primary agent is unable to act for you?

7. Think about your next home: Maybe you should consider selling the house that you lived in to raise your family and right-sizing somewhere else. Before you do, make sure that you understand that very few 55-plus communities are designed or equipped to offer any support services if you need them. Explore a few Continuing Care Retirement Communities to see if you are likely to be able to afford them, and if so, which one seems best for you.

8. Meet annually with a financial planner: There is a difference between a financial planner who works for a percentage of assets managed and an investment salesperson who is motivated to sell you financial securities or annuities. Think twice before buying an annuity.

9. Plan your final exit: Do you want to be buried or cremated? Is there any place you want to be memorialized or interred? Have you thought about organ donation or leaving your entire body to science for research and education? Do your loved ones know your wishes? At least think about these things and make notes. Better yet, discuss your wishes with your family or a funeral director.

10. Learn something new: Learn to play a musical instrument or take up a new hobby or activity. Keep your brain active by learning. Meeting new people will help to keep you sharp and stay happy.

If you have not yet made your New Year’s resolutions for 2021, it is not too late to do so. There are a few things on the above list that I promise to do better this next year. How about you?

Learn more about the article’s author, and other community education opportunities, at www.keystoneelderlaw.com. Check out the book, “Long Term Care Guide: Essential Tools for Solving the Elder Care Puzzle,” at the Whistlestop Bookshop or Amazon, and see Keystone’s free directory of services for older adults at www.mypeaceguide.com. Keystone Elder Law has offices in Mechanicsburg and Carlisle. Call 717-697-3223 for a free telephone consultation.

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