Business Monday

Plan now on ways to take care of yourself through a long retirement

As simple as it sounds, set time aside to think about how you want your later years to look.
As simple as it sounds, set time aside to think about how you want your later years to look. Getty Images/iStockphoto

It is no surprise to us that people would want to retire in Florida.

A report by financial website WalletHub released on Jan. 14 ranks the state as the best place to retire in terms of affordability, health-related factors and overall quality of life. According to the U.S. Census’ 2017 Population Estimates Program, close to a half-million Miami-Dade County residents are over the age of 65, and by 2040, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65, according to the annual report produced by the Administration for Community Living. Advances in medicine are leading the way to longevity, but various improvements in diet and lifestyle have also helped.

Since we are all looking forward to longer and more productive lives, the importance of maintaining your lifestyle through retirement has become more pronounced and is an essential part of any financial plan.

Let us define what we are talking about: Care over the long term refers to plans or services that helps you in your later years, be that help for everyday tasks, medical care or even where you live.

Most people are unsure about the right steps to take to plan for your long-term life needs. Thus, speaking with your financial professional about specific considerations is essential to preparing for a lengthy retirement.

▪ Where to start: As simple as it sounds, set time aside to think about how you want your later years to look. Where would you want to live, would you want to live at home (possibly with live-in help), or would you opt for an assisted-living facility? One of the challenges that a longer life span brings is more significant health risks, such as cognitive issues.

According to UBS research, 37 percent of people over the age of 85 have some mild impairment, and around a third have dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 540,000 people aged 65 and older reported living with Alzheimer’s in Florida in 2018. That same source said that 15 percent of people in Florida hospice care had a diagnosis of dementia back in 2015. That is why it is crucial to think about this now and communicate your long-term needs to your loved ones, even if those conversations are difficult to have.

▪ Saving for yourself and those who are most important to you: As we grow older, the ability to maintain a lifestyle that we’ve become accustomed to can become a financial challenge. This may be further compounded if we also face an unexpected health condition. Making prudent decisions now can have a positive effect on what those later years will look like. Personal savings, a pension or income from investments may be sound options to help ensure that one can live comfortably in later years. Setting aside assets directly for a lengthy retirement can help ensure you are prepared to face any challenges that may arise.

Making provisions for your loved ones and leaving a legacy is not always an easy undertaking. However, the financial security of your family may depend not only on how you manage your wealth today, but also on how you protect and preserve it for the future. An estate plan can help you prepare now to provide for others in the future.

▪ What else can I do? Growing older can sometimes mean pushing retirement back to later in life. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working paper, “The Power of Working Longer,” that’s having a positive impact as well. They found that delaying retirement by three to six months has the same positive effect on a retiree’s standard of living as saving an additional 1 percent of earnings over 30 years! While working longer isn’t possible for everyone, it can be a viable strategy for keeping your mind engaged and possibly improving your standard of living.

As we age, thinking about and planning for the distant and not-so-distant future becomes more important. So, create a lifestyle plan that works with your needs. Think about how and where you want to live. Explore long-term care options with a financial professional to see if it makes sense for you. Discuss with your family your wishes and how to address your needs, even if the conversations are uncomfortable. And ensure your legacy planning is up to date by regularly updating your will, trusts or advanced medical directives.

Carlos Lowell is senior vice president of wealth management, and financial advisor, for The Lowell Group at UBS Financial Services Inc., and he is based in Coral Gables. He can be reached at

▪ This is an opinion piece written for Business Monday’s “My View” space in the Miami Herald. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

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