1. Record all details in one central location of important legal documents, list of financial assets, pensions or profit-sharing plans, latest tax return and Social Security statements, the location of any safe deposit boxes and their keys, and information on your social media accounts and how they can be accessed. Treece Financial’s “Survivors Guide” can get you started. Once completed, be sure to give copies to trusted family or friends!
2. Make sure you have a will and update as important things change in your life.
3. Have advanced directives/living will created.
4. Establish a power of attorney. This means giving a trusted person authority to manage your financial affairs, including your property, if you are not able to do so yourself —even temporarily.
5. Have an emergency fund to alleviate the stress and worry associated with a financial crisis. Keep your emergency money separate from your checking account so that it’s harder to dip into.
6. Address the possibility of needing long-term care and look to select a strategy that may help you protect assets, preserve dignity, and maintain independence.
7. Even though your mortgage may be paid off, it remains important to consider coverage against property loss and exposure to personal liability. Review your policy as the cost of replacing your home and the belongings contained therein may have grown over the years.
8. You may need to review your insurance before beginning any home improvement project since it can expose you to additional financial risks.
9. Consider Medigap insurance to cover the expenses that Medicare does not, which can add up quickly. You also might want to consider some form of extended-care insurance, which can be structured to pay for nursing home and home healthcare services—two services that Medicare doesn’t cover.
10. Check your auto insurance policy prior to renewal for appropriate coverage—not too much or too little—and check with other carriers for better rates.
11. Use apps to manage money. New budgeting apps seem to hit the market weekly,— Mint,Mvelopes, HomeBudget,Pocket Expense, Moven, and Prism—are among the options. They make it easy to check in on your budget even when you’re out and about.
12. Reassess your home regularly to ensure that it continues to meet your needs. Consider “right-sizing“ your home if you find that the costs outweigh the satisfaction.
13. Drive a less-expensive version of your dream car and invest the difference.
14. Call your cell and cable providers and see if it’s possible to negotiate a new rate. Cell providers, who face stiff competition, may be responsive. Cable companies may be less so, but you can review your package and make sure you are not paying for service you don’t want.
15. Automate your finances so all sources of income—pension funds, Social Security, and disability payments —are deposited directly into your bank account. Bills such as utilities, insurance, and mortgage or rent payments should come out of your bank account automatically on set days each month. This makes it easier to manage them and to track money flowing into and out of your accounts.
16. Set up an authorized signer on your bank account. An authorized signer has authority to sign checks, to make deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the account holder, and to access account information such as balances and activity. However, an authorized signer does not have ownership over your bank account and has no rights to the account’s assets unless they are designated as the account beneficiary in the event of your death.
17. Avoid cash dealing in cash as it can easily go missing. Try to keep a trail of your financial transactions that can be reviewed by you or an authorized signer, agent, lawyer, or banker.
18. Request a free credit report from each of the major U.S. credit bureaus each year, as is every American’s right under federal law.
19. Put fraud safeguards in place. Trusted family and friends can be alerted to large withdrawals from accounts, debit cards can be programmed to only work in certain locations and names and numbers can be placed on “do not call” lists.
20. Protect your digital assets. Consider how to pass on those digital assets when you die. You can include your wishes in your will, pick someone to share account information with and restrict your privacy settings now so you’re not oversharing personal details with strangers.
21. Focus on the things you’re grateful for. The longer you live, the more you lose, so life becomes even more precious. When you stop taking things for granted, you appreciate what you have even more.
22. Acknowledge and express your feelings. Don’t deny what you’re going through. Find healthy ways to process your feelings, perhaps by talking with a close friend or writing in a journal.
23. Accept the things you can’t change. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control, such as the way you choose to react to problems. Face your limitations with dignity and a healthy dose of humor.
24. Look for the silver lining. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.
25. Take daily action to deal with life’s challenges. When a challenge seems too big to handle, sweeping it under the carpet often appears the easiest option. But ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; it allows both the problem and your anxiety to build. Instead, take things one small step at a time. Even a small step can go a long way to boosting your confidence and reminding you that you are not powerless.
26. Find support groups in times of change. If you or a loved one is coping with a serious illness or recent loss, it can be very helpful to participate in a support group with others undergoing the same challenges.
27. Spend time with at least one person every day. Whatever your living or work situation, you shouldn’t be alone day after day. Phone or email contact is not a replacement for spending time with other people. Regular face-to-face contact helps you ward off depression and stay positive.
28. Explore volunteer opportunities. An important first step is to engage in honest self-assessment. Inventory your skill set and interests. This will help identify what sort of volunteering opportunities are the best match for you.
29. It’s normal for sleeping difficulties to emerge with age, but insufficient sleep can impair memory and learning. Going to bed and waking up at the same time can help. However, if you have a sleep disorder, consider seeking qualified assistance.
30. Travel somewhere new or go on a weekend trip to a place you’ve never visited.
31. Spend time in nature. Take a scenic hike, go fishing or camping, enjoy a ski trip, or walk a dog in the park.
32. Enjoy the arts. Visit a museum, go to a concert or a play, join a book group, or take an art appreciation class.
33. Write your memoirs or a play about your life experiences
34. Work something new in each day. You don’t have to work elaborate crosswords or puzzles to keep your memory sharp. Try to work in something new each day, whether it is taking a different route to work or the grocery store or brushing your teeth with a different hand.
35. Take on a completely new subject. Taking on a new subject is a great way to continue to learn. Have you always wanted to learn a different language? Learn new computer skills? Learn to play the piano? There are many inexpensive classes at community centers or community colleges that allow you to tackle new subjects.
36. Laugh. A Lot. Laughing lowers the stress hormone cortisol. According to a study conducted in 2014, 20 minutes spent watching funny videos helped improve the memory in seniors. Some research also shows a link between happiness and lower risk of heart illness.
37. Diet+ Exercise+ Emotions work together. If one is out of balance it affects the other two. When two are off, your whole equilibrium system goes into overload. There are very few things we can control. Eating and exercise we are in total control of. Emotions are much harder. But when you like the person looking back at you in the mirror it’s easier to handle most everything. The health benefits are so positive. The fact is, it slows down the aging process.
38. Remove one thing that is bad for you – something you eat or drink, or some way that you avoid exercise – and replace it with something that is good for you.
39. Body detoxification using special juices has been touted as a way to lose weight, rid the body of “poisons,” and treat or prevent any number of diseases. These expensive juices, however, don’t live up to their billing. Indeed, detoxing may be dangerously unhealthy to some people. Your body already does a wonderful job of detoxing, thanks to your liver, kidneys, and intestines. Save the money and let your body do what it’s ideally designed to do.
40. Focus on prevention. Preventative care visits, including health screenings for cholesterol levels, colon cancer, heart problems and more, qualify for Medicare coverage. Seniors also need to get vaccinations that can help prevent influenza and pneumonia.
41. Take advantage of free physicals. During the first 12 months on Medicare, seniors are offered free physicals. After that first year, they receive free annual wellness visits.
42. Keep active. Do something to keep fit each day—something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look and feel better, too.
43. Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
44. Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
45. Remember mental health. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation recommends that seniors do crossword puzzles, read and write and try new hobbies to stimulate their minds and engage with the world around them. Activities like these can ward off a decline in mental health.
46. Are you in the habit of using the elevator? It’s time to start using the stairs.
47. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Find out if any health conditions or medications you take affect the type of exercise you should choose.
48. Find an activity you like and that motivates you to continue. You may want to exercise in a group, like in a sport or class, or prefer a more individual exercise like swimming.
49. Start slow. If you are new to exercise, a few minutes a day puts you well on the way towards building a healthy habit. Slowly increase the time and intensity to avoid injury.
50. Walking is a wonderful way to start exercising. Exercise doesn’t have to mean strenuous activity or time at the gym. In fact, walking is one of the best ways to stay fit. Best of all, it doesn’t require any equipment or experience and you can do it anywhere.
51. Exercise with a friend or family member. You can help to keep each other motivated and you’ll not only benefit from the physical activity, but also from the social contact as well.
52. Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging, age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if necessary.