Once upon a time, folks could rely on friends and family to take care of them in times of need. Today may be a little different, or not. Life expectancy in America continues to increase. We are living longer than in our entire history as a species. I think that’s a good thing!
But we need to prepare for a much longer life than in previous generations. Let’s consider health and wealth. On the health side, we are living longer for several reasons. We try to eat healthier; we definitely are medicated to live longer. Some have said the single leading
cause of extended life is due to taking blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication. On the other side of the health equation, manual labor and manufacturing jobs requiring physical stress still exist, but not to the extent they did 50 years ago. Today we are a service economy. Don’t get me wrong; heavy lifting still exists in the workplace, just far less folks are subject to it these days than in days gone by.
Since we are living longer, new challenges have popped up. At the turn of the century, from the 1800s to the 1900s, life expectancy was around 45 in America. Today it’s easy to expect double that number. One of the fastest-growing age groups in America is the centenarians. You know, the folks that get to go on TV because they hit the magic number.
Side note: most old permanent life insurance policies matured at age 100. Folks hitting that birthday get a nice surprise in their mailbox if they updated their address with the life insurance company. They get a check for the death benefit. Yup, they are entitled to the face amount of the policy. Today, permanent policies mature at age 121.
Back to the healthy side of the conversation. Life after age 85 almost always requires some form of help. Help like rides around town for shopping, doctors, and visiting friends. More than half of the US population over the age of 85 require formal assistance for activities of daily living. These wonderful folks have seen so much but may not realize the need for help. Proper nutrition, medication maintenance, making sure their home is safe from objects that can cause a fall, or worse. There are solutions, but family and friends need to step in and step up. The challenges facing our loved ones are completely beyond their ability to solve on their own. Heck, we are in the business and we sometimes struggle to articulate a simple plan for such complex challenges.
On the wealthy side of the equation, money sure helps get things done. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your very own private butler and registered nurse? The butler could manage your shopping list, maintain your household, and drive you to and from. The nurse could coordinate your doctor visits and manage your medications and put them in those daily pill packs for your convenience. We have thousands of clients and not one to my knowledge has either of those professionals on staff; most folk just don’t have that kind of money! So, what can be done? PLAN!
Plan for your future. I’m not trying to be a fuddy-duddy, just a realist. It costs nothing to walk through your home and look for things that are a potential trip hazard. It costs nothing to watch a YouTube video on basic daily exercise, and, more importantly how to get up from the ground without assistance.
My trainer was taking a course on physical and occupational therapy. She asked me to lie down on the floor. That was the easy part. Then she instructed me to get up without using my hands. It was nearly impossible, and I am very active. Imagine a person who considers a walk to the car real exercise trying to get up off the floor. It is a call to 911.
I’m just suggesting living without a plan is creating issues for those you care about! Worse, you may have too much money for help and too little money for the help you would like to receive.
As always, we will help everyone we can, but as Nancy says, “our home won’t fit all of you” so you better make a plan to take care of yourself when you yourself can’t take care of you.