“Half Empty or Half Full” in Retirement?

Human Personalities can be divided in many different ways. While I’m not a psychologist it seems to me that most people I meet are either “cup half empty or half full” kinds of people.

As we get older our personalities tend to become even more fixed and resolute. So, when it comes to looking at Retirement options much of what goes into those choices is well established by the time we reach 55. First, our personal tastes, likes and dislikes are pretty much set in stone, even if that stone has been worn smoother through the storms of life.

Second, our financial habits and outcomes are often on a certain trajectory that is difficult to change. If a person chose a career with a defined fixed benefit retirement plan, chances are their view of retirement and the choices they have are very different from someone who chose to own their own business; for better or worse.

Third, family patterns and relationships are usually very well established. A sign on the road to Alaska says; “choose your ruts carefully; you will be in them for a long time!” How true of life. The person we marry, the children we have or don’t have, the jobs we occupy, the churches we attend, the clubs we join, the friends we make end up becoming like well-worn ruts on the road of life. And they will influence our retirement decisions well into the future. A bumper sticker I saw recently said, “Treat nicely whoever will choose your nursing home…” Good advice!

If you are at the point of making critical choices about retirement, there is a good chance that all of the above factors are already in place. What you now need is a new group of influential people who can guide you through a labyrinth of choices that you, your children, and your advisors have never had to make before as part of your life. As the wise King Solomon once said, “A wise man has a wealth of advisors…”

Here is a list of advisors we recommend to anyone who is past the age of 55 who is looking at retirement options for their parents or themselves.

First, find a retirement advisor who has no vested interest. These are hard to find. I would call these, “friends who have already retired ahead of you”. Friends can give advice, and you can take it or leave it. Ask a lot of friends who have chosen very different options. Ask them the pros and cons of their choices.

Second, have someone in the retirement field describe the differences between “Living Well at Home”, Living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, Living in a Multi-Level Provider Community, and the “just rolling the dice and seeing what happens” community. This last group is by far the largest and easy to find in Sunday school classes, service clubs, coffee shops, and family gatherings.

Third, whatever financial assets you have, make sure you have an Insurance Provider, Certified Financial Planner, and Attorney to help you tie up loose ends to your estate. Even if you have no assets, it is so much easier on your children when you pass away to have a very inexpensive “Living Trust” in place to help them bypass a myriad of state regulations and possible probate court processes. Remember, the affordability question is usually at the top of the list. A group of advisor’s can help you determine that with you, but only if they have all the information.

Last, be a good shopper. If you think you want to “live well at home”, interview several home care providers and get hard costs and schedules well in advance, including how you will handle transportation, shopping, doctor’s visits, home repairs, etc.

If you think you might want to live in a full-service facility in the area, visit many. We suggest of course, Palm Village Retirement Community. We are a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with many positive and secure reasons why people choose to live here. You are welcome to visit and join in an activity to get a feel for who lives here and how the residents socialize at our 50’s style diner. They are a fun bunch of folks.

There are obviously other fine facilities in the area and we suggest that you make yourself familiar with what they provide. An important question to ask is, “Are you RCFE Licensed?” Only with that license can medical care be provided in the Independent Living Home or Assisted Living Suite of the resident.

So, whether you are a life “half-empty” or life “half-full” kind of person, the older you get the more necessary it is to make decisions about where your “cup” is going to reside and who is going to fill it!