The “Longevity” phase is the third part of the MIT AgeLab’s four phases of retirement. At this stage, managing health may start to feel like a job, as doctors’ appointments and managing medications become a priority. According to a Gallup survey, individuals age 80-84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful navigating the longevity phase of retirement:
Protect Yourself At Home
If you have not already done so in the “Big Decision” phase, it is time to assess your living arrangement. As mobility becomes more challenging, consider a one-floor plan or making home improvements such as grab bars in the shower or widening doorways, installing railings, or modifying stairways. A geriatric care manager can point out improvements that can increase your safety.
Another alternative is to look at Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), where you can enter the community in an independent living capacity. In the event that long-term care is required, you can transition to an on-site assisted living, nursing home, or memory care facility. This model can shift the increasing costs of long-term care from you to the facility, as some CCRCs charge a flat fee regardless of the level of care you’re receiving.
Use Technology To Monitor Your Health
The days of medical products targeted at “old people” are over. Older individuals have rejected products they typically need, like traditional hearing aids or emergency response devices. These products sent the clear message, “I’m old and frail.” Now, medical devices are no longer targeted at an older audience. New Bluetooth hearing aids can connect to smartphones, and calls can be routed through the earpiece. Wearables, such as the Apple-watch can monitor medical information like A Fib and notify you and your doctor if you are in A Fib. Downloadable apps can track prescriptions and store your health data.
Plan For The Unexpected
This is a perfect time to review your power of attorney and health care proxy documents to ensure they reflect your current wishes. Be sure to communicate your wishes to the people you have entrusted to make decisions on your behalf. In the event of a physical or cognitive decline, be sure that there is a clear plan in place for family or friends to help with your care.