Good Life

Make that ‘Bucket list’: Important decisions involve time, money, location and health care

J.R. Reed
J.R. Reed

Centre County has been touted in national publications as a retirement destination for more than 15 years.

The proximity of Penn State and relatively low cost of living as compared to major metropolitan areas draw alumni and those seeking a slower pace. For fans of the seasons, Centre County has a moderate climate.

There has been steady growth in the number of people ages 65 and older in our area. Centre County is a relatively young county due to the presence of a major university, but the percentage of older adults in the population is increasing.

Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of services and supports for older people. In 1972, the Pennsylvania Lottery began offering property tax rebates for those ages 65 and older. Over the years, the lottery has expanded, and funding is provided for prescription assistance, free transit, shared ride, in-home services, senior center programs, home-delivered meals, protective services and information services for older adults.

While the aging services network tries to prepare for the onslaught of baby boomers, many in that age group do not consider themselves to be older people.

There is no “typical” older person, but there are issues that all people approaching their 60s should think about. People in the U.S. who reach their 60s have a life expectancy of another 20 to 25 years.

There are important decisions about time, money, location and health care that need to be made.

For those who are working, how to spend time is dictated by professional and personal responsibilities.

For those who are anticipating retirement or have already retired, the gift of free time can be the most challenging one to use.

In spite of multitasking, there are only 24 hours in a day, some of which must go to sleeping and daily living activities. The rest of the time is available to pursue interests, volunteer, travel, spend time with family and even work.

A “bucket list” can be a good place to start when deciding how to spend time.

Some individuals seek a life coach or other counselor when making the transition from work to retirement.

Talking with other retirees or the Retired Senior Volunteer Program can also be helpful to hear about leisure and volunteer pursuits that are available.

Money management is an area where older adults should seek trusted advice. There are many excellent resources to learn about investments. Estimating expenses in retirement can be difficult. Most people underestimate costs associated with health care.

Resources such as the Apprise program are available to assist people in choosing health insurance best suited for their needs when they are eligible for Medicare.

While there is a lot of information available online, powers of attorney and estate planning should be discussed with an attorney to be certain that individual situations are covered. Financial planners are also helpful, as are tax accountants.

The stereotype of retirement in a sunny climate rings true for many people. As with other decisions, it is essential to think this through.

Living in a community is different from vacationing in that same community. Access to transportation, shopping, medical care, cultural resources, parks and places of worship is what makes a community livable.

Consider how important it may be to be close to family or friends. Some people are looking for a more traditional senior community while others prefer a mixed neighborhood where they can age in place.

Developing a relationship with a primary care practice is crucial for older adults.

Even the healthiest person can fall ill or suffer an injury that requires health care. Knowing that care is available can be a great comfort in an emergency.

Older adults often put off considering long-term care needs. When the need arises, decisions are made quickly, often by family members.

If there is an opportunity, it is better to visit facilities and get an idea of the types of care provided before the care is needed. Centre County Office of Aging publishes a listing of facilities for the area.

Health care also includes preventive care.

Recreational programs offered through the YMCA, Office of Aging senior centers, local biking and hiking groups and Centre Region Parks and Recreation promote healthy living for all ages.

Retirement planning is never one size fits all. Think about the issues raised above and then evaluate your needs and preferences in each area to make the decisions that are the best for you.

Jane Taylor is the retired director, and J.R. Reed is the acting director of the Centre County Office of Aging. Contact Reed at cbreed@centrecountypa.gov.

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