How to avoid critical mistakes later in life
Although the divorce rate of younger couples has been dropping, the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau report that the divorce rate for married people over 50 has doubled, and for those ages 65 and older the rate has approximately tripled since 1990.
Some financial planners have specialized in this area, and can provide the necessary guidance to families facing this situation.
Dennis Stearns, founder of fee-only Stearns Financial Group in Greensboro, N.C., has focused on this issue for a decade. He has written a comprehensive and concise book, Fourth Quarter Fumbles: How Successful People Avoid Critical Mistakes Later in Life.
The book addresses what is needed for successful aging and has some insights that could significantly reduce the probability of facing divorce later.
Transitioning to retirement can be challenging. You may do less, spend more or struggle with boredom. Health may deteriorate and caregiving issues arise.
Stearns identifies the problems that almost all couples will face in retirement, and he elucidates the factors that are needed for successful aging: a physically active and mentally stimulating lifestyle, strong social engagement, and finding a purpose and meaning in life.
Agree on a strategy
Stearns poses a number of key questions for couples to consider, including: What is your vision of an ideal retirement? Do you have a clearly defined financial roadmap for retirement? Are both partners on the same page when it comes to retirement housing or joining a community?
Once couples agree on a financial roadmap, an attorney, financial planner and insurance agent should be able to work with them to carry out their strategy.
It is crucial that couples decide on whether they plan to spend more in retirement on travel and vacations than they have previously. How important is it to leave some of their assets to their children? Couples who agree on these questions before retirement will increase their chances of happiness.
Take care of yourself
Stearns draws a distinction between “wellness vs. the absence of illness.” According to a 2016 Employee Benefit Research Institute study, 80% of healthy respondents were “very satisfied” after 15 years of retirement, compared to 25% among those who were in poor health.
There are many things you can do to ensure a higher quality of life: Eat sensibly; exercise regularly; get enough sleep; exercise your brain regularly (I recommend volunteer work and hobbies for this).
Also, feed your spirit. Regardless of your religion, healthy aging benefits from a good spiritual foundation.
Stearn summarizes a few of the key actions to minimize fumbles.
- Health is your No. 1 asset in life. Focus more on the pursuit of wellness, not just the absence of illness.
- Explore your “why,” your reason to get out of bed every morning.
- Nurture your “who” in order to face the challenges of the fourth quarter. You need a team of friends, family and advisers to help you to avoid or recover from fumbles.
- Consciously work on better decision making. Have several friends or family members help you.
- Sharpen your bounce-back skills. Resiliency is a top predictor of fourth-quarter success, and it can be improved.
Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2019 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.