My mother will be celebrating her 90th birthday this week. I am not sure what her plans are, but I suspect they will include swimming, which she has done six days a week for many years. Keeping her body and mind in shape has always been very important to her and perhaps a key to her longevity.
I have another relative who recently turned 90. In his career he was very influential in the community and state, and well loved and respected by all who knew him. Whenever the occasion occurred to mention that he was my relative, the positive responses and declarations of admiration for this man were universal. He was an individual who could do, and did do, everything he set his mind to. Like my mother, he exercised daily to stay in shape. But now at age 90 things are much different.
We recently visited with this wonderful man at the memory care area of the senior facility where he lives. It was a tough visit. The long pauses between questions and the often-incoherent answers, no way resembled the vibrant and intellectually stimulating man we had known for so long. Watching him attempt to get a single piece of food in his mouth on his own was disheartening. A once healthy and brilliant man now struggles to remember, comprehend and function at even a basic level. Aging affects everyone differently and you never know until you get there how it will affect you. Thus, planning early for that time in life is so critical.
As I looked around the care center, something about it stood out to me. In the room full of people, I only saw four men among dozens of women. Launa, who regularly donates her time singing in a retirement home, commented that it is the same there as well; mostly women. It should not have surprised me since the largest demographic in my office client base is women.
Research shows the startling reality that about 80% of women die single.* That means most women will be responsible for their own retirement at some point. The challenge gets greater when you consider that many married men who die before their wives, deal with expensive mobility and healthcare issues in their final years that can put a strain on family finances. This often leaves their spouse with less resources than originally planned. Even though my father died from a condition incident with old age, my mom has still outlived him by more than two decades. I am certain she never expected that to happen.
Out-living your money is a risk to retirees that largely falls upon women. It makes sense that women should take an active role in family finances, budgeting, investing and retirement planning since they are most likely to be left alone with these matters at some point. The best time to prepare is long before that happens.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
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