By William E. Kelly | Senior Matters
Symbolically, we each have a set of bricks with which we can build plans for what life as a senior will look like. The rub is that the quality and quantity of our individual brick inventories are not identical. Understanding where our individual strengths and weaknesses lie is absolutely essential to identifying what is possible and what is not.
The hard truth is that none of us are dealt the same cards, so it’s how we play the hand we have been dealt that determines the winners and the losers.
In short, it is up to us and whatever advocates, caregivers and/or advisors we can utilize to help us determine what retirement plan we can build and where and how we can live out our senior years as meaningfully, securely and comfortably as possible.
In the last issue of Gay San Diego, part one of this series ran in this column [“Assessing senior needs,” found online at bit.ly/2iakhok]. It provided a list of six broad categories of need that seniors or those who care for them must consider carefully in order to plan for those senior years: income/assets, expenses, housing, health, location and support.
Listed under each category were interdependent and related factors that need to be understood of an individual’s situation and circumstances in order to tailor retirement solutions that are affordable, available and accessible to them.
Once the categories that determine what we can afford are evaluated, we are in a position to assess what is accessible. Location and support then become the crucial determinants for identifying which options are available and which are not. As a reminder, these include:
Geographic location: Security/safety/crime; crosswalks; transportation options; street lighting; sidewalks; parking; parks; demographics; weather.
Support system: Shopping, goods and services; family; friends; social groups; community organizations; clubs; hospitals/medical care; senior center; schools; entertainment.
Given the diversity of cultures, languages and other demographic and socio-economic variables, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
This column can only help point to information resources that can assist with making decisions applicable to individual circumstances and conditions.
That said, it is never too early to learn or to plan, but it is often too late.
Have you and/or your loved ones assessed your preparedness for living your senior years? Waiting for a crisis to happen which may then force us to educate ourselves about our or a loved one’s options is a disaster in the making.
A reading of “Silence Isn’t Golden: Talk and Plan Now,” provided by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), is a good first step.
ASHA was formed in 1991 and its members consist of both for-profits and nonprofits that include “executives involved in the operation, development and finance of the entire spectrum of seniors housing — independent living, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities.”
According to the piece, “Almost 60 percent of families say they’re uncomfortable talking about age-related issues. Only 23 percent of women and 35 percent of men say they’ve addressed long-term care in their retirement plans. And only two in five people have talked to their families about living and care preferences as they age.
Don’t let this be you; be proactive. Overcome the inclination to keep silent about what’s important, take charge and plan ahead.”
If you are ready to learn how to plan for your senior years I strongly recommend that you investigate the full ASHA publication available on the internet or ask someone to help you access this publication. The home page is titled, “Fitting in at a Senior Living Community” and can be found here bit.ly/2iyP6TU.
Once the home page is open, scroll down and select by clicking or tapping on each of the items listed for a wealth of useful information.
The final and third part of this series will offer some words concerning putting one’s legal affairs in order so that whatever plans have been made can be set into motion in accordance with current laws under the direction of legal counsel.
Note: The internet is an unlimited source of very useful free information. Some are provided by for-profit and some by nonprofit entities. Internet links to entities quoted are not to be construed as an endorsement of that entity but are rather as recommended source for whatever free information I found that they provided.
As always, questions and comments are welcomed and can be directed to me.
To read part one of this series, visit gay-sd.com/assessing-senior-needs.
—Bill Kelly is a longtime local activist who currently focuses on LGBT senior issues and moderates the Caring for our LGBT Seniors in San Diego Facebook page. Access to the group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers. Reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.