by Pamela Leland, PhD, Executive Director
If it is cold outside, we wear a coat, maybe even a hat and mittens. If there is ice or snow, we wear boots or shoes with non-skid soles. If we are driving in the rain, we use windshield wipers. If climbing on a ladder, we have someone hold it steady.
Simple things. Simple steps that increase our safety. Precautionary steps that reduce our risk for accidents and illness.
We need to bring this same safety awareness to the process of aging. If our goal is to “live well” – however we might define this for ourselves – what can and should we be doing to reduce the risk that something could keep us from achieving our goals?
Living well involves multiple dimensions and raises questions related to physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and financial factors. Living well as we age is more likely to happen if we are intentional in all of these areas. In other words, our chances of having the life we want as an older adult are higher if we make an effort to reduce our risks of illness, accidents and financial insecurity.
We each need our own personal risk management plan.
The questions below will open up this topic, expanding your understanding of the sources of risk as we age. This is not an exhaustive list … but it is a start. Other related issues and questions will arise as you begin to explore each area.
Are you getting sufficient exercise? Do you get outside enough to feel the sun … and reap the benefits of natural Vitamin D?
What are you doing to reduce your risks of falling? Are you keeping your physical space free from clutter? Have you installed grab bars in your bathroom or shower stall?
What are you doing to preserve your cognitive abilities? Are you getting enough sleep … and sleeping well? Are you eating nutritious meals?
Are you doing activities that engage your brain?
Are you actively engaged in learning new things?
Are you actively involved with other people in a regular basis? Are you isolated from friends and family?
Is transportation a barrier to your participation in community events and activities?
Do you enjoy your life? If you are not happy or satisfied, what are you doing to make things better?
Do you have positive relationships with friends and family? What are you doing to strengthen and/or sustain meaningful relationships?
Have you shared your end-of-life wishes with friends and family?
Do you have reasonable and achievable financial goals? Are you meeting those goals as they relate to managing day-to-day expenses as well as saving for a rainy day?
Do you have a will and a medical power of attorney?
Do you have trusted advisors in case you have financial questions or concerns?
Do you understand your particular risks for fraud and financial abuse?
Life is full of risks! Having the life we want as we age is more likely to happen if we approach life with an awareness of the risks and a willingness to do the preventive work to minimize our risks. Living well as we age is not only (or simply) about managing our money: it is about managing our minds, our hearts and bodies too.
Published in the Daily Local News, May 29, 2017