At SB2 last week, a crowd gathered early to get an answer to a big question: is retirement still retirement? We, too, were curious. In fact, we were so curious that we assembled some of the most knowledgeable people we know in their respective fields to get their perspective. We had a lot of ground to cover – from financial and estate planning to employment opportunities for the aging, life expectancies and even universal design. But with the help of our esteemed panelists, we got some answers and feel better prepared to navigate the road ahead.
Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs served as the opening presenter. Specializing in estate planning, Aubrey provided the perfect introduction for the symposium. Florida is an attractive state for relocation – and retirees in particular, due to the state’s friendly tax environment. In serving families that have lost a loved one, or a surviving spouse, Aubrey reminded those in attendance that when planning for the future proper communication is the most valuable preparation anyone can provide.
Of all the ground our panelists covered, the most important ideas for our region can be boiled down to this:
1. If you can, work longer.
- People are living longer. It’s a fact. And the longer we live, the more expenses we incur. If the age of retirement remains constant at 65 without taking into account the increasing life expectancy, retirees could find themselves in unexpected financial hardship. Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company recommends an exercise in expectation in order to plan realistically. “First, you need to determine what is your desired quality of life.” Meeting with a planning professional can help you set attainable goals for the future and can bring perspective to your planning. “If you can, work longer. If you can work part-time in retirement, you should.”
- Echoing that sentiment, Kathy Black, Ph.D Professor of Social Work and Gerontology, University of South Florida at Sarasota/Manatee shared news from a recent study. “Work as long as you can. Save as long as you can.”
- Programs and organizations like Boomerswork, operated by panelist Tim Hearon are working to change the way employers think about hiring boomers. “Our mission is to help employers think in a different paradigm by embracing hourly, monthly an even flexible payment scenarios.”
2. As you age, utilize the resources available to maintain a high quality of life.
- With the rapid advancements in technology, we can expect that new and emerging products will make daily life much more accommodating for the aging. Robert Karnick of ROBRADY Designs clued us in on what we can expect. “With home heath care, we will see a convergence of medical devices and consumer products.” The takeaway here is that it will become increasingly easier for individuals to take responsibility of their health with the introduction of new technology. We were particularly interested in his mention of consumer products that would assist in monitoring the health and wellness of the elderly-transforming the role of the caretaker. “These technologies would give you peace of mind as we care for aging parents.”
- Take advantage of programming that will keep you engaged, social and involved. Erin McLeod of The Friendship Centers touched on the importance of caring for seniors on both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. “The Rubin Center for Healthy Aging serves low income seniors over the age of 50. Serving them are retired doctors and health care professionals. In the parking lot is everything from bicycles to Lexuses.” Erin also introduced us to a new word, “workateering” – she has met many senior volunteers throughout the years with storied careers that need an outlet. They are committed to keeping themselves sharp and active by working or volunteering in their field for a small amount of pay.
3. Have a plan.
- Though it may be uncomfortable, make your wishes known. It is never too early. All too often, surviving family members spend the time immediately following the death of a loved one engaged in a legal battle over assets. “Get your plans done so that the legacy you leave is not that your kids don’t speak to each other” says Kelly Caldwell.
- “Communicate” says Aubrey Lynch. “Surviving spouses are left in a precarious situation and can feel helpless. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable situation to have, but it is important to think about.”
4. Get ready, we’re about to be front and center.
- It is no secret that we live in the midst of an aging population. According to Erin McLeod, 40% of our local population is over the age of 60. And since the entire population of the US is aging, all eyes will be on our area to see care for and accommodate a large elderly population. Her advice, “start cultivating best practices now. We have 125,000 seniors in our community and only 5,000 nursing home beds.” Tim Hearon of Boomerswork acknowledges the situation ahead of us when it comes to the way we are preparing for high amounts of caregiving, “We should be the flagship for the whole country.”
The bottom line is that there are an incredible amount of resources in our community for the elderly and aging to get involved, to work, to volunteer and to effectively plan for the road ahead.
Special thanks to CS&L CPAs for sponsoring this event and recognizing the importance of this topic in our community. To view photos of the event, click here.