Pages

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our next stop.

We used to count decades:
-till children graduate from college;
-till cars are paid off;
-till we can retire;
-till........

Life was full of daily chores and must do's waiting for the big one to arrive.
Every decade brought a big sigh of relief. I remember when our last child left for college, how fortunate we felt managing to pay for all or most of their expenses, proud that they didn't have to be saddled with loans as we were. When our first went to college, we were still paying for our student loans!

When each found a love of their lives, how proud we felt for the wonderful people they met and cultivated. Each step they took, was one more goal we too had achieved, one more hurdle we managed to overcome.

Health issues, money issues, career issues. We fought the good fight. We managed to save, and plan and take steps to support ourselves and manage our lives. Responsibility and Commitment were our mantra all those decades, as we encountered detours and  stops on life's highway.

The future at this point is not so well delineated. It feels blurry and foggy. We can't earn anymore, as jobs are scarce; and there are many young people with young families to support; a lot of people have more talent and especially energy to tackle anything that comes their way. And we are already living within our means, buying only what is absolutely necessary. We know our car will eventually need to be replaced, for instance, as will our deck, our roof, our windows...


We face the season of catastrophes, situations that we can't plan for. We see people who lost houses and all their savings battling a debilitating illness; their spouses moving in with their children; their possessions sold or given away as they packed hastily and were removed from their own neighborhoods.

Nursing homes, retirement villages, help centers are waiting with open arms for those who have means to afford such services. Each stage will require new services; each service will require more resources from family members.

We may not have had a fool-proof plan for aging comfortably, but I wonder if my children can save enough or insure themselves enough to prepare themselves for such foggy situations. How much money do they have to put away from the time they start working, and never touch it, and hope the value of that money grows or at least doesn't decrease, so they can pay for all the years and months they will be incapacitated and unable to pay for the care and services they will need.

I'm curious.
Are we the only seniors worrying about such things?



26 comments:

erin said...

i think, rosaria, you are not the only ones worrying about it and while i can not speak for others my age, i do not know how to worry about this. it is not that i live carpe diem exactly, but that i just manage to live, and can not manage to live philisophically otherwise. it is a strange divide, i think not necessarily between generations, but between philosophies.

what will happen when i am old? i will be very poor and hungry. i might be homeless. my body will be uncomfortable. and then i will die.

i don't know what else to do. adjusting how i live now (which is only hand to mouth and this by choice, prioritizing living against saving, which means i choose to work one day less a week so that my spirit might be healthy). if i chose otherwise now and banked that one day a week, rosaria, i mean this, my life would not be worth living. i would be spiritually deprived. as it is it is difficult to manage.

and so we make our choices.

xo
erin

joeh said...

I have saved diligently and retired quite comfortably (I thought) several years ago. Then I quit smoking and drinking and actuarily speaking I might not be able to afford the extra years dropping those habits had given me, and when I run out of money I won't be able to afford to go back to those habits.

It is a dilemma.

becky said...

We're getting a really good picture about how living as an aged person looks as we deal with the problem of our 92-year-old mother. It is a grim outlook...we've done what we could do about our retirement, buying long term care but can plan for little else. As you said once, we live on two levels...fun and dread. We dread what might happen but don't know what it is...

Helen said...

This is a tough post, Ms. Rosaria. Employment, or lack thereof, health issues, the future for my disabled son ... they do weigh heavily on me from time to time. I guess, at this point, I'm functioning .. I'm healthy .. my 12 year old car is still running .. the St. Louis Cardinals are still in the chase for the World Series title ... I'm not going to worry today! Flying off to Minneapolis in a few hours to provide two weeks of care for the mother of my former husband's wife ... now you can figure that one out! (lucky us, we are all one lovely blended family)

Brian Miller said...

the seasons of catastrophe...that sounds ominous but i guess bears truth as well....and true as well on how we measure time to that point...there is always something looming out there...def something for me to think on and prepare for one day...

dianefaith said...

We worried for years about how best to care for my mother — who died 3 years ago at age 89 — and then nothing happened the way we had anticipated. It was far worse than we thought emotionally, and better than we thought financially. So, as we move through our own older years, we certainly are in a foggy place. I don't think about it too much because there's not much I could do at this point and because I've learned firsthand that there are too many variables. The future is simply unknown. What will be, will be.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We really do not have the worry of our children at all. No children. Our worry is more about our health and how do we cope with a problem there. Nothing serious at the moment but there are beginnings. French health care is terrific, but you do need insurance to cover much of it. Have a good week Diane

RNSANE said...

Oh, Rosaria, at 68, I'm in a mess. I've made some poor choices. I remarried at 36 & had a 2nd son at 38 & a 3rd at 40. They are terrific young men. But, when I ended up having extensive back surgery at 41, after I slipped on hydraulic fluid that leaked from an operating room table ( my employer had to only cover workmen's comp ), my Serbian husband took off, never supporting or even seeing his boys. After a year and a half of being disabled, I was lucky to find a nursing job I could do and, though it only gave me half time benefits and retirement, I got plenty of extra per diem work. That's one of the reasons, though, that I am living half the year in India. I love it here and it's affordable on my retirement...but it's a long way from home.

Maggie May said...

Although we have National Health Service here and we don't have to pay for our treatment and I've had £1000s worth of treatment for cancer & Harry too. We will be penalised for saving if we have to go into care and will eventually loose most of everything if we live long enough.If we need care, nurses, helpers etc, we have to pay. Surely this is a worry with most people who are ageing.
Living a day at a time helps to stave off the evil day..... because theres a chance you might stay healthy and then the worry would have been for nothing.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Diana said...

This is a good post, Rosario, and something that enters my mind when I have the time for it, which isn't often these days.

We took our windfall in the form of selling our CALIF house at a good time and invested most of it into a rental property. I hope this will pay off in the long run, in the short run, it's been a fair amount of work and the money in makes is reinvested into the property itself, although after almost 10 years it doesn't need much more.

This, at the time, at least, with the stock market all over the place and good retirement plans not so plentiful, to be a wise choice. At the very least, I feel like we are depending more on our own work and choices than those things that are less in our control, for long range income. It's not enough, but it's a start.

Funny, though, until now my family had a fair amount of longevity to boast, but losing my mom when she was just 64 has me rethinking some of this, and wondering if carpe diem, as Erin put it, might not be a bad way to live...

yaya said...

When my in-laws passed away at an early age..67..within a year of each other, the biggest dilemma was all the "stuff" left behind...the house to empty and sell, etc. Had we known a few other surprises they left us, we would have encouraged them to plan a little different. We've learned from that in many ways but 11yrs. later we're still sifting through some unsettled business that has left the family very divided. I plan to make sure that doesn't happen to our kids. I'm already paring down the possessions and trying to live much simpler at age 59. Hopefully we will live longer than 67 but my crystal ball broke and I guess I'll just continue to do the best I can now. Your blog has been a big help in opening my eyes to retirement...for that I'm grateful.

Eva Gallant said...

You bring up a topic that is so serious for all of us. I am 68 and Mr. Eva is 72. We have a nest egg, not large, but it would have been sufficient if Cancer hadn't reared it's ugly head. Now we'll be paying off medical bills until we land in our graves, and living hand to mouth. We applied for senior housing and were rejected at the first facility that had an opening because our income exceeded their limits by $1800 per year....never mind that we are paying at least that in medical bills annually. Your debts are not considered when you apply; only your income and the interest on that nest egg.

musicwithinyou said...

Rosaria, you have every right to feel like this but don't let it deprive you from enjoying these wonderful times with your husband and family.

Choices,yes but every one is faced with making these choices based on their life style and health issues. Some people are natural planners where some just deal with it when it happens.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

You're far from alone in your fears for the future, Rosaria. I have many, especially the thought of a catastrophic illness wiping out all our careful planning. Everyone in my parental generation -- parents, aunts and uncles as well as my maternal grandmother-- have literally dropped dead from massive heart attacks or strokes without being invalids or needing expensive health care. I'm hoping to follow the family pattern at a nice old age.

I find myself very concerned -- frightened, really -- at the political kickball senior "entitlements" have become. I cringe at the thought of Social Security and Medicare falling victim to a Romney presidency. But I also fear that Obama, if re-elected, might offer both up for major cuts in another attempt at collaborative budget negotiations with Congress. I feel more vulnerable than ever before -- feeling unemployable and more dependent on Social Security than I anticipated after our 401Ks took a hit in 2008.

But, in between all the worries, I'm trying to find a balance between enjoying life now and being cautious for that cloudy, uncertain future.

janette-salvador gonzaga said...

These days, I feel myself changing ominously, like I have become fearful of the future: indeed, a million 'what ifs'---it's a negative self-defeating activity I never indulged in before, and never thought I will be indulging in today. Perhaps it's all part of 'aging,' the insecurities, self-doubts. Well, that's how life is. The most we can do probably is to make the most of our days. It's a gift.

#1Nana said...

Let me stay oblivious for a little while longer. I'm in early stage retirement and still think it's all about the travel and relaxation!

the walking man said...

You already know my story Rosaria so let me just say...no you are not the only one who has such worries. Mine are deep too because I was cut off in my peak earning years.

Rian said...

Rosaria, your post today opens a whole new can of worms (if you'll excuse the expression). But to answer your question... "of course you're not the only seniors worrying about such things". But "worrying" never solves anything. It just adds stress. "Planning" is the answer... even if it's in baby steps. And if Plan A doesn't work, have a Plan B ready.

Rob-bear said...

No, you're not the only ones who think about these things.

My wife and I have been retired for a few years. We have sold our house, meaning we have already given away most of what we have (so the children won't have to do that). We have invested our money conservatively, so it should last for a while. We don't take holidays. We live in an apartment, for which we can pay from our pension cheques. I still work occasionally, when I can find work. And we will continue to live independently, or with minimal assistance, as long as we are healthy and able.

But like Eva, we make just a tiny bit too much to be able to get into affordable long-term care. So when we can no longer care for ourselves, we know how to take a walk on a cold winter's night, and freeze fairly comfortably. Like the Innu elders in the Arctic, who would cast off on an ice pan when they could no longer contribute to family and community. For all the advancements in our modern society, life can still be brutish.

Blessings and Bear hugs.

Hilary said...

We all have those worries once we reach a certain age. This aging thing is a frightening prospect.

mary said...

The Republican plans for seniors and those under 55 will cause divisiveness among age groups. Social Security is not Broke as the pundits would have us believe. Small tweaks will keep it healthy for years to come. We must preserve this program for our children and grandchildren. We saw what happened to 401Ks and the value of houses just when some of us were counting on these. Is this how we want our children to provide for retirement. And what about the day care workers, wait staff, housekeepers, yard men - I bet they are able to sock away a lot from those minimum wage jobs. The Republicans would like to put health care, retirement savings, the post office, amtrack, etc., in the hands of the 1% . God help us.

Utah Best said...

If you ever stop by Utah, make sure to check out these awesome places on our blog :) http://utahexperienced.blogspot.com

Linda Myers said...

We have planned and so far we are good. We have to be responsible for how we eat and exercise, but beyond that we live from day to day. Worrying is useless and, fortunately, I am learning not to do it most of the time.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Plans are only as good as the political arena you have chosen to live in. Today their are so many bad places it's hard to figure out the best option for the best future.
The youth of today has it no easier than any previous time.

cheshire wife said...

I did not think about it when I was young and I try not to think about it now, but I have not really got there yet. Husband reckons that we shall be OK.

Cinner said...

Hi I think all seniors are worrying, and if not they are lucky.I worry about our future with me not working and my husband is aging. It makes the future appear foggy too, .....I should have started planning much earlier in my life, never believed I would get sick thus making us unprepared...that is why I try to focus so much on today. hugs to you. think of you often, try not to worry my friend.