There are so many things about getting old that I just don’t like. Every time I look in the mirror I notice more facial lines; my hair has not only changed colour (in truth that happened years ago – courtesy of the Shepherd gene) there’s also a lot less of it on my head as it appears to have migrated to my ears, nose and eyebrows.
I can’t sit down or get up for that matter without making involuntary groaning noises and when it comes to reading the newspaper, my arms just aren’t long enough. Sound familiar?
Ailments aside, the real issue regarding getting old all of us face is the difficult but sensible decisions we should be making and conversations we should be having with our family that we too frequently choose to avoid like the plague; you know the ones:
• Will my money keep me through retirement and last until I die?
• What happens if I need short or long term care?
• Will I have to sell my home?
• How will I cope if my partner dies before me?
• How do I go about arranging a funeral?
A recent report by Anchor, a later life charity, suggests that our biggest fear of getting old is “losing control” of our independence, finances and home.
The report goes on to say that nearly two thirds of us have never considered our care options and yet nearly a quarter are concerned about the emotional strain on our families. A bit of a contradiction don’t you think? We worry yet we do nothing about it.
The sad thing is that discussing some or all of these issues would resolve much of this fear and emotional strain, particularly with those closest to us?
The thing is help is available to get you started and point you in the right direction; you just need to know where to find it, which is why I have compiled a list of valuable sources; food for thought so you can work out the best way forward:
Government: Not to be dismissed, the government’s website has a wealth of information on retirement planning, advice on pensions, tax and benefit entitlement.
Money Advice Service: an independent service set up by the government to help you make the most of your money and you can contact them online or via the telephone.
Age UK – probably doesn’t need any introduction. The bible for ageing.
FirstStop Advice : an independent, impartial and free service provided by the national charity Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in partnership with local and national organisations
Over50choices: a personal finance website specialising in funeral planning, offering a range of guides and free advice on ways to pre-pay funeral costs.
The National Careline: a not for profit company offering information about care and support for older people, their carer and their families
Our retirement years should be ones we look forward to; our time to kick back and have fun while we still can, so rather than worry about losing control, bottling things up yet doing nothing about it, why not take time to think about those ‘what ifs’ and use the help available to put plans in place.
Talking to your ‘other half’ and the rest of your family is also important. It may seem like a difficult conversation to start but it could potentially turn out to be one of the most rewarding, not only for you, but for them as well, especially if it allays some of those fears of the unknown.
We would love to hear your story of what getting old has meant to you and perhaps your family – please leave in the comments section below.