Retirement Planning: It’s Not Just About the Money

A short note: I heard a program about retirement planning the other day.  I won’t identify the fellows since almost all retirement planning advice carries the same assumptions and the same blinders.

The authors had the usual advice about savings and investment strategies to make sure your money lasts through retirement.   The implied assumption is that you will live your golden years in security until suddenly “the Big One” takes you out.  Trouble with the assumption is that folks are living longer, and the longer they live the more expensive life gets. Consider how many people above age 90 live like 65 year olds?  How many drive, maintain their own home without help, make their appointments and pay their bills by themselves? Perhaps most live in apartments that are “independent” or assisted living.  The cost ranges from $2,500 to over $6,000 per month.  Kind of ruins the financial plans.

Let’s consider the foregoing, just pointless quibbling about the computations.  I agree that life does not go according to plan and yet it is better to have a plan that stretches one’s life savings to live in reasonable comfort and style.  After all what if a person does travel, buy new cars and clothes and then runs out of money at age 85?  It is better to prudently plan.

Let’s go to another part of my first point. Retirement is about aging and aging is about declining independence and health in many retirees.  How much decline a person experiences is often directly related to the quality of healthcare the person actually receives.  I did not say the quality that is available, but the quality received.  From my experience an elder needs a healthcare advocate, a “patient advocate” to get the best outcome.  Why? One reason is the complexity of healthcare and related to that is the incessant cost cutting the health insurers demand.

Yes, the quality of one’s life depends  having adequate finances,  but for many it depends more on the quality of the medical experience.  And that requires a patient advocate who is acting under the authority of a healthcare power of attorney.  But even more, the patient advocate must be informed about public and private benefits (Medicare and private health insurance for example).  For many elders across the country it has been a patient advocate who saved their lives.

And so, that is why this entry is a short note.  The subject of how to get quality outcome of your healthcare experience when your provider is trying to cut costs is not just a blog article.  It is more than one big chapter in the book on retirement planning.   I’m working on that one.

All the best,

Jim

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