By Danna Downing
Among many other gifts, retirement offers opportunities to move away from risky, unhealthy or stressful work and move toward a more relaxed and healthier lifestyle. However, this is an earned benefit requiring planning, goal setting, decision making, and a good transition from the weighty work of full employment and raising a family to the next phase of life. It must be said that the challenge is even bigger for persons undergoing forced retirement or taking on the responsibilities of those who are raising young relatives late in life.
The foundation for all these tasks is rooted in obtaining reliable and appropriate information and resources to build a team of trusted advisors. If it sounds like work, it is. The paycheck for this unpaid effort is a higher quality of life in what many call the second adulthood.
Health and wealth are critical components of a rewarding retirement. Critical tasks for pre-retirement and early re-retirement include completion of advance medical directives and wills. Taking care of these tasks promotes peace of mind for older adults and their families. It can also protect assets and prevent misunderstandings and heartaches in later years.
There may come a time when a person cannot make their own health care decisions. Using some type of advance directive, it is possible to prepare for this possibility. Documents that tell medical providers and family members what you want to happen can be created. The healthcare power of attorney (also called a patient advocate designation), a living will and DO NOT RESUSCITATE form are three common types of advance directives tools. The main difference between the healthcare power of attorney and the living will approach is that the living will allows a person to specifically define their wishes in advance. These documents can overlap and be used together. It is best to find legal assistance to be sure your intentions are followed. The professionals and trusted friends/family members are key members of your advisor team as you age. The Michigan Health Information Network and the Five Wishes Organization offer universal documents for completing an advance directive that is valid in Michigan. Both organizations provide background information to assist in the choice of an advocate and offer conversation guidelines for individuals to work with their advisors and family members.
Once your document has been completed, it is important for you to keep the information updated and to share it with your healthcare providers, patient advocates, and anyone else involved with your health care. Go to https://mihin.org/advance-care-planning-resources/ to see one format that many area hospitals share with their patients. Go to agingwithdignity.org and click on Five Wishes to obtain a copy of The Five Wishes document. You may also call 888-5-WISHES (594-7437).
If you pre-plan and prepay for your funeral arrangements, this takes a load off your survivors, and adds other valuable members to your team of advisors. This is especially true if your designated team members live out of state. Consult your local funeral home director for further information.
The LESSON TO SHARE for this month: Prior planning for the end of life is a gift to your loved ones and yourself. The investment of time, energy, and nominal money required offers rewarding dividends and gives families a sense of peace and closure.
By Danna Downing