30 Ways to Prepare for Your 60s


Turning 60 has a tendency to hit people like a rock. We have serious financial decisions to make, can no longer take for granted that our health will be fine, and begin to lose friends in addition to parents. We may have fallen into bad habits, but at the same time want to be around to enjoy retirement and watch our grandchildren grow up. To say the least, our sixties can be a time of angst.

But there are ways to prepare for your 60’s that can take away some of the anxiety. Here are 30 steps, almost all of which I am working on, so that I can hopefully glide, rather than belly flop, into my sixties. Whether you are only in your 30’s, or passed through your 60’s long ago, I hope some of these steps also help you gain new confidence, energy, optimism and expectation for your retirement years.

1) Face them head on. We are constantly being bombarded with new information, and the older we get, the easier it is to withdraw from progress. But even if you are ready to retire, your 60’s is not the time to turn your back. You have to prepare so that you can get through to old age with dignity and comfort. Embrace the challenge. Your anticipation alone will help keep you young.

2) Accept your body. Maybe it’s just me, but dwelling on how my body has changed can dampen my enthusiasm for the years ahead. But wrinkles, gray hair, bald heads,and other signs of aging are really signs of honor. Accept that and you will not only feel better in your own skin, you will find that others accept you, too.

3) Lose 10#. You can accept what is inevitable and still strive to be healthy. Metabolism changes as we age, so that many older people put on some weight, while also losing muscle. I am going to try to lose 10# so that I can slowly gain it back in my old age.

4) Start to lift weights regularly. This will help accomplish #3, retain muscle strength, and help prevent osteoporosis.

5) Get into an aerobic exercise routine. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the US, and getting regular aerobic exercise is a key factor in both preventing and reversing heart disease. Aerobic exercise also keeps stamina up and increases flexibility so that you can participate in the activities you want to do.

6) Explore new hobbies. I planted my first perennials 3 years ago, learned to make earrings 2 years ago, and dug out my sewing machine last year. I’m still not sure if any of those are hobbies I want to devote much time to, so I’m considering trying painting this year. By the time I retire, I’d like to have supplies built up so I can afford to pursue my favorite hobbies then.

7) Take short trips to places you might want to retire. I have been enchanted by the Sandhills in Nebraska for many years. Western Nebraska looks to me like such a peaceful and lovely place to retire. My husband and I recently drove there for a weekend, and I tried to envision living in the wide open spaces. I was surprised when a wave of homesickness fell over me. I felt very far away from people I love and things I like to do. Unless you know where you are going to spend the rest of your life, it can be very eye opening to take little trips and check out some possible future locations. Don’t set your heart on someplace you’ve never been and find out, too late, that you can’t stand living there.

8) Reduce your expenses. Most people increase spending in the years before retirement. Try to keep that in check enough to get your debts paid off before you retire. That way you can live comfortably on a reduced income when your employment ends.

9) Invest more cautiously. My nature is to want to pull all our money out of the stock market as my husband and me venture into our 60’s. But it is hard to keep up with inflation if you don’t take a little risk. Diversify, put a higher percentage of your investments into lower risk vehicles as you age, and contact a good financial professional to help you not outlive your savings.

10. Calculate your Social Security benefits and figure out when you want to retire. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Here is one online resource: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement/. I would be happy to refer you to some wizards in this area if you want some personal advice.

11) Write a will. Ensure that you will have a say over how your hard earned assets are distributed when you die. For me, the task is to update our will before I turn 60.

12) Write your advanced directives. If you are fortunate, like me, to not have had any major surgeries or illnesses requiring you to have already set up your advanced directives, now is a good time to do it. None of us want to leave our family in the position of having to decide how long we want to be on life support. Here is a helpful, state specific guide to make this step easier. http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?page...

13) Evaluate your health insurance. If you are thinking of retiring before age 65, can you afford the premiums and deductibles of carrying your health insurance? Will your place of employment or Cobra let you stay on their plan until you can get on Medicare? If you are retiring at age 66 or later, you need to evaluate whether to get on Medicare Part B or stay on your work plan past age 65. Insurance consultations are usually free and can be worth their weight in gold.

14) Get a colonoscopy. Yes, I have followed my own advice.

15) Get your moles checked out. Ditto.

16) Get your PSA checked. Ditto from my husband.

17) Succumb to bifocals. They are much handier than readers.

18) Take hypertensives and statins as needed. If you have not been able to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control with diet, exercise, weight loss, salt reduction, fiber, or fish oil by now, those methods are probably not sufficient. Don’t let the wear and tear on your heart and blood vessels continue. Take what medications you need to stay healthy.

19) Quit smoking. Medicare does not pay for medication to help you quit smoking, but some health insurance companies do cover Chantix and Wellbutrin for the purpose of helping you kick the habit. We all know there are many other reasons to stop smoking, but being the ability to use your health insurance company’s money to make quitting easier on you may be your kind of incentive!

20) Start getting rid of stuff. Many of us have accumulated a lot of memories in our homes over the years. And some of those objects need to be tossed. I am trying to give away, recycle or throw out two things for every one new item that I buy (not counting groceries, toiletries, etc). It is going to take a while to get rid of all our junk, but I love the feeling of seeing a clear shelf where “stuff” once resided.

21) Designate who gets your sentimental possessions. I have come up with a lot of dumb ideas in my life, but this is one that turned out to be quite good. I went through our home and wrote down items that I thought our three daughters and their families might want someday. They ranged from my wedding ring to a hutch that used to belong to their great grandma. Then I grouped them into similar items (furniture, glassware, etc) with about 4 items in each group.

I asked our girls to rank the items in each group with want they wanted most (#1) to least (#4). Everyone had to make their choices without consulting anyone else. When I got their responses, my husband and I used their answers to earmark who will get what. It was surprising how different their answers were, so that we were able to give each one about 80% of their number one choices. They now know what to expect, and we can distribute those items when we want to without someone getting jealous. Above all, they know they will get at least a few items that have sentimental value to them.

22) Volunteer. If you’ve been very busy at work for your entire life, now is a good time to try volunteering for a cause you believe in. Otherwise, you may suffer an identity crisis when your job ends. Doing good things for others makes us feel needed and wanted, while changing us, and changing our world around us, for the better.

23) Make goals. Most of these steps are things to start working on now. This step is to set goals for your future, so that you can look forward to it with anticipation. Your goal might be to learn a new language, get involved in a new sport, join a new club, or make a new friend. It may be to read the Bible through in a year, grow your own vegetables, paint every room in your house, or go fishing at least once a week. This goal is to tuck away and savor looking forward to the time when you can tackle it, be that when you retire, go to part time work, or simply decide it’s time to slow down.

24) Get Skype, Face Time, or Google Hangouts. All of us know someone in another city, state, or country who we don’t get to visit as often as we’d like. Video chatting is a great way to shorten the distance between us and those we love. It is cheap, flexible, and takes very little physical ability.

25) Get long term care Insurance. I really think people should get LTCI by age 55, but if you are like me and have put it off, getting long term care insurance by age 60 or 65 is OK. The premiums get really high, and your chances of not qualifying increase significantly, if you wait much longer than that.

26) Evaluate your life insurance. Most people need permanent insurance in their 60’s. Getting a term policy that ends at age 80 is setting yourself up for disaster. So what are your options?
A. You can get a small whole life policy for your final expenses, and just let the rest of your life insurance run out.
B. If your health is good, you can get a larger guaranteed no lapse universal life policy (which has the lowest premiums for permanent insurance). This can be used for inheritance purposes, charity, to pay taxes, etc.
C. You can convert current term coverage to permanent insurance. The ability to perform a conversion is only available for a window of time, and that window often ends at age 65 or 70. All it takes is a form to convert your term to universal life, rated the same as your were on your term policy, no health questions asked. So if you have had a change of health, this can be a great way to have some permanent life insurance at a reasonable price.

27) Go somewhere you always wanted to go, or do something you always wanted to do. Who knows if we will live to retirement? Fulfill at least one dream now.

28) Forgive someone. When we retire, we are going to be free from the demands of a job that consumed the greater part of our week. Don’t we want our spirits to be free, as well? Old grudges and hurts sap the life from us. Start your 60’s with the enthusiasm that comes from being the bigger person and forgiving someone who wronged you.

29) Appreciate the younger generation. I feel so fortunate to have children, son-in-laws, and co-workers who are bright, opinionated, accomplished young adults. They stimulate me and help me see outside my small world (which is not easy for those of us who work remotely). I am doubly blessed to have small grandchildren, for whom the smallest things are an adventure. People younger than ourselves enrich our lives. If you have no young folks to interact with, try to find some, or at least open your heart to appreciate them. Every generation has its bad apples, but you will find that there are a lot of “good” younger persons out there, if we open our eyes to see them.

30) Get reconnected with old friends and family. I am somewhat of a recluse, so this is a step that I have to work at. But when I do it, I am always rewarded. As much as we might ignore it, our past is interconnected with our present and future. Most of us are more well rounded people when we accept and connect with those who grew up with us somewhere along the way to where we are today. Heaven knows, they won’t be here forever. So let’s try reconnecting with one old friend or relative each year.

I hope to hear from you in 30 years to see how it went.