Future Planning

Planning for the transition to later life

Women chat and play cards at a table

Whether you are considering retirement or becoming an empty-nester or downsizing to a new home, it can be hard to picture the next stages of your life. Regardless the situation, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by changes to your routine and lifestyle. But if you know what senior services are available, you are primed to prepare for what you will do next. Don’t worry, it’s never late to plan for what’s next—or too early. Many people lay plans well in advance as they are preparing for retirement. It can take a little work to get everything in order, but planning ahead can create peace of mind, which may be the best gift you can give yourself and your family during this life chapter.

How to start planning for retired life: talking about aging

Begin by sitting down and understanding what you want. You may want to work side-by-side with a loved one to plan for your future so they are also aware of your wishes. You can ask questions like:

  • Where do I want to live?
  • What are my main health concerns? What are my plans to maintain my health?
  • What is my financial situation—do I have enough money to secure my future?
  • Do I have my finances in order, should anything happen to me?
  • How can I stay connected to family and friends?
  • What do I plan to do with my time?

You want to create a comprehensive plan that covers big life events and the day-to-day assistance you may need. Be sure to consider any chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other conditions. It’s important to fully understand your situation, as everyone ages differently. You may end up needing several months or several years of care, so be sure to think about both short and long-term concerns. Once you have an idea of what you may want and need in your future, you can better map out your course in the most essential areas.

Planning for health after retirement

One of the most common concerns around aging is how to pay for medical care. Be sure to do your research on all the available options. Also, regular physical exercise is important for continued health, so be sure to plan and maintain a regular routine to stay active and fit. In addition to physical health, be sure to create a regular plan to check in on your mental wellbeing.

Planning for work and leisure after retirement

The foundation for a healthy later life is regular socialization and an active lifestyle. If you are no longer working, explore volunteer opportunities and local activities for seniors to get out and about while making new friends. Check out your local senior center to see what programs they have available.

Planning for finances after retirement

By planning ahead, you can create legal instructions that will help keep you in charge of decisions about your care and finances. By understanding your options, you can be sure you will be able to pay for day to day expenses throughout your lifetime. There are also many solutions for paying for long-term needs and care, including insurance, veterans benefits, and low-cost and no-cost public programs.

Planning for housing after retirement

You will need to decide the best living situation for your future. Consider factors such as proximity to family and access to groceries and activities. If you would like to continue to live in your home, identify any adaptations that can make it safer, more comfortable, and easier to get around. You can also access services such as assistance with housekeeping, meals, and personal care like bathing or getting dressed, to make it easier to live at home.

Planning for transportation after retirement

Many people let their license expire or stop driving as they age. Be sure to identify available public transportation routes and accessible ride options so that you can get from here to there and everywhere in between. Many services offer wheelchair-friendly and low-cost ride opportunities that keep people of all ages and abilities mobile and connected.

Planning for Disasters and Emergencies

Disasters can strike at any time, but there are steps you can take to better prepare. See this fact sheet to make sure that you are prepared for emergencies, or use The Red Cross’s For Seniors By Seniors toolkit to help you prepare for the unexpected. For those living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, the National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center has a Disaster Planning Toolkit for People Living with Dementia with tip sheets and checklists designed for people living with dementia, family members, and caregivers to better understand and prepare for a disaster.