OK, I get it; you don’t want to think about it. Or perhaps by ‘future’ you think I’m referring to ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’ As you might have guessed from July’s piece about learning from the Wisest Americans, Thriving Individuals are well served by planning and thinking about the longer-term future, not just what’s for dinner! While no one wants to think about getting older the reality is just such a condition would be far better than the alternative! I’ll be bringing you more on this in the months to come but for now let’s take a broad look at what is involved.

When we think about the future there are a few key categories we may wish to consider: financial, life, housing, health and perhaps (likely) healthcare. Thriving means we’re willing and able to take an honest look at these areas and make an appraisal of what we have, or need, moving forward.

There are many, many tools out there to help us calculate what kind of financial resources we might need to age comfortably and safely. I will not even try to make a suggestion as to what will work best but here are some of the places you can get an idea of what you might need: large investment companies such as Vanguard, Schwab or Fidelity all have retirement tools, reliable websites such as Suze Orman or The Mint, your CPA or Certified Financial Planner can all help you make some determinations. Thriving Individuals will want to consider not only what it will take to “keep the lights on” but also what it might cost to get assistance for some activities as the normal aging process continues. A will or living trust will be instrumental in spelling out how and where you’d like any remaining assets to go after your death and now is the time to get that done!

What kind of life would you like to lead, as you get a bit older? Do you wish to be fairly isolated or would you prefer to be around others and be active in the community? I’m thinking that as a Thriving Individual you’ll want to be around others! As we heard from the Wisest Americans it’s helpful to have a community around you. Building that community takes time and effort. Since we already know how difficult change is, if there’s a move to another region of the country or a different type of housing situation that may work better for you, it might be useful to begin to get that in order as well. Stairs, steep driveways in winter locations, housing which doesn’t meet your needs are all points to consider.

Thinking of stairs and the such brings us to housing. Do you want to stay where you are? Is your current housing adequate for your future needs? If you need a wheelchair are the hallways wide enough? Is the yard overwhelming or does it feel ‘just right’? Do you live in an area where snow removal, ice on the walkways and water in your basement feel overwhelming or do you think you’ll be able to manage those for some time to come? There are so many housing options for us now its almost overwhelming! Housing also means looking at the financial resources because if you don’t wish to pay for services such as snow removal you’ll need to seriously consider your present living arrangement.

Your health and healthcare are also factors to consider as we think about the future. If you’re in good health you certainly have more choices open to you but even then its good to begin to think about what you might need moving forward. If you have a chronic or debilitating condition it might not be so handy to be far away from emergency help or good healthcare centers. While many Americans report they wish to die at home (Time/CNN poll, 2000) rarely do people consider exactly what this means for those around them. Hospice and palliative care and assisted living facilities are all gaining in acceptance, awareness and availability. The support they offer not only Thriving Individuals but their families as well is unheard of for past generations.

Here’s an odd and somewhat unexpected result of thinking about, discussing and planning for the future; it’s incredibly liberating! Think of it like that holiday gift you got for someone special several months ahead of time and you just know its done and ready to go. How great is that feeling? Now, can you give that same type of gift to yourself? I know you can! Feeling a bit queasy about all this? I’m right here ~ give a call, ask for some support and I promise, you’ll feel really great you got this gift wrapped up for yourself!