A former student came to visit me at the retirement center this week. As we sat down over coffee he managed a cheerful, “Wow, for 81, you look great.” I gulped twice. First, I wasn’t 81 and second, I hate that caveat, “for your age.” At almost 81, it’s like hearing, “Wow! You look better than a cadaver.” Nonetheless, I thanked him for his compliment, after which, we fell into a patter about the economy.
Money concerns come naturally to me. As a single person, with no one to fall back on in a time of crisis, I read financial columns with a good deal of interest, particularly as I approach 81. I credit myself for taking two smart steps while I was a working girl. First, I purchased disability insurance to replace my paycheck if I were to be incapacitated for a few weeks or months. Second, when I was 62, I bought long-term disability insurance that would kick in should I need daily assistance in the future.
I never had to use my short-term coverage, but I slept well at night knowing I had it. I’ve yet to fall back on my long-term care policy, but I bought a good plan to cover me should I, like my mother, live to 101. Unless a single person is wealthy enough to self-insure for unanticipated medical treatments and drug costs, he or she ought to consider both types of insurance. Elizabeth O’Brien, economics writer for Money magazine shares my view about the precautions for single life and adds a few ideas of her own. (“Four Tips for Going Solo,” by Elizabeth O’Brien, Money, March 2017 pgs. 41-42)
According to O’Brien, the number of single people planning for retirement is larger than supposed. “About 40% of women and 35% of men ages 45 to 64 are widowed, divorced or separated or have never married, according to the U. S. Census Bureau.” (Ibid pg. 41.) To maintain a happy and healthy retirement, single people need to keep an active network of friends. Doing so is good for everyone but particularly important to single folks.
Living alone means should you become infirm, you’ll need someone to manage your finances. That person doesn’t have to live nearby or even in the same state, but he or she should have access to your financial papers or know where to find them. O’Brien adds, when it comes to medical decisions, chose someone who does live close by, someone who can be with you during an emergency.
Planning for the future can make turning 81 or 91 or 101 less worrisome. Once you’ve done your due diligence, go out and play.
(First published 2/28/17)