I looked in the mirror this morning and thought to myself when did the years creep up on me? I was a toddler yesterday now I am my father’s age when I was 16 years old. When I get together with other Boomers I hear the same story from everyone. Their daily concerns revolve around the aches and pains they feel now but never felt before, college tuition, unmarried kids still at home, boomerang kids that came back and can’t leave, aging parents, tough bosses, in peril jobs, the lists go on and on. These are very real fears, anxieties and concerns.
They look and feel exhausted, worn out and worried. They are weighed down. Women, the traditional care-takers and still the ones primarily that carry the heaviest load of responsibility are not the only ones that feel the pressure but they seem to have more weighing on them. The men do as well, especially if they are the bread winners and are concerned over ageism managing them out of their jobs.
What can you do? Well the root of all this is fear. Fear is usually not your friend unless you are swimming toward shore with a shark in tow – then the fear adrenalin rush is your friend. Many of us feel like that though, especially with looming concerns.
Jesus is quoted as saying “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The gist of this good advice is that worrying is useless. The first part really refers to prayer and trust in God. The second part is that worry can’t change anything. One way to allay fear is to prepare. When a storm is coming the media scares people silly, however, some intelligent reporters allay fears by giving advice on how to prepare to weather the storm and maybe even enjoy yourself while the lights are out. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here are some suggestions to help with the pressures of life. Preparation is key.
I always recommend prayer. I pray with my wife before making financial decisions and really before I undertake anything. I ask for Wisdom, guidance and help to make the right decisions.
I make lists of what I want to do. Every January I update all my information. I have files and paperwork which give clear directions and roadmaps to assets, medical, contact numbers, passwords etc… That way if I kick, whoever has to get things in order will have an easy time of it.
Boomers have so much to contend with and very little time and energy to do what needs to be done. I pick a Saturday that is rainy or snowy or if I have a vacation day available during the week or a lazy Sunday I use it to sit down in my home office, pull out all the paper work I need to update and enjoy a cup of coffee and a good radio station while I organize. It is quite peaceful. Lock the door and tell everyone you will be busy for two hours. No cell phones. No interruptions. I know, I know, easier said than done but Boomers can do anything they put their minds to.
OK – first things first. Organize yourself, then you can organize parents (if need be) and kids. I use an excellent resource from CSA which I will be happy to email to you upon request called the Information for Life Kit. It is a pre-printed guide with fill-in forms for all your important information.
Some Suggestions on Organizing Your Life
1. Everyone should have a will. It is relatively inexpensive to have a lawyer do it or you can download one from the web. Check the internet for your state’s requirements on what constitutes a valid will. I think it is worth having an attorney draw one up; I can provide web sites that will suggest attorneys and other professionals upon request;
2. Everyone should have a Living Will;
3. If your assets are considerable speak with an Elder Care attorney about establishing a Trust;
4. Create a list of assets, medications, doctors’ names and addresses, phone numbers, passwords, instructions etc… (E-mail me and I will be happy to email you back a copy of the Information for Life Kit by CSA);
5. Boomers should look into long term health care insurance. My wife and I are planning on applying now while we are healthy. God willing we will never need it. Many Boomers are looking into Long Term HealthCare Insurance. In short this is the definition as provided by CSA: “Long-term care is care that is provided for a wide range of medical, personal and social services for an extended period of time. Your health care professional determines that you have a chronic problem, lasting 90 days or more, and you will need substantial assistance. Care levels include assistance with daily activities, home health care, adult daycare, care in an assisted living community or nursing home. Supervision at home or in a facility is included if you have a severe cognitive impairment – memory or reasoning loss. Long-term care is intended to maintain and support an individual’s existing level of health, to preserve his or her health from further decline or to manage a deteriorating condition as safely as possible.”
6. Everyone should consider their current health issues and those of their aging parents and how they may progress for the better or worse. If for the worse then a plan should be put in place to arrange for home health care, paying of bills, laundry and house cleaning, shopping and meal preparation. Family members should all have roles (it should never fall on one child if there are siblings). Impose on your children and siblings if they are reluctant.
7. Plans to care for pets should also be made;
8. I would also suggest funeral arrangement preparations (at the very least buying burial plots);If a religious service is desired, prepare a request list to be carried out;
9. De-clutter. I am a big believer in de-cluttering in general. Every year we de-clutter and get rid of stuff we haven’t used in at least 6 months. The good things get donated to charity the garbage such as old paper documents and things that are not salvageable etc… are tossed. There are actually services that will help you de-clutter if you need it. They are reasonably priced and are very popular these days. Trust me that old clock that hasn’t worked in 15 years gathering dust in your basement is NOT worth keeping.
10. Sell your old jewelry, especially if you think it will be a bone of contention when you pass. Use the proceeds to take a trip.
It is very important to nourish yourself in body, mind and spirit. Don’t wait for a New Year to make a resolution. Make little resolutions every day, nothing big. Big ones always fade. For example don’t take on a diet that will make you unhappy just eat healthy once or twice a week. Make it fun. Exercise is always a hard one for me. I try to do something exercisey every once in a while. Maybe make it a point to exercise twice a week be it a walk around the block or a walk on the boardwalk in Spring Lake. I enjoy bike riding at the shore or the Manasquan Reservoir. Have some alone time (even if it is just a good soak in a hot tub). Make a list of books to read over the summer. Go out with friends. Enjoy life. Enjoy friends and family. Pray, golf, fish, travel, eat out, exercise, go dancing, have a cocktail party with a small group of loved ones, take up a new hobby, mend broken fences, and reunite with a relative you haven’t seen or spoken with in years. Take time to forgive old hurts and then forget them (easier than you might imagine). The Boomer years can be the greatest years.
My wife and I love going disco dancing these days at the Battleground Country Club. I lovingly call it 54 on Geritol but it is a great experience. For a couple of hours twice a month we are kids again, with other Boomers who are kids again too, if only in our minds.
You don’t need a ton of money to enjoy these years, you don’t have to be in perfect health all you need is to make a personal decision to do it and have fun.
Live la dolce vita. Padre Pio used to say – “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” Try it – it works.