Make your Senior Years a Golden Dream

Thirty-five years of working for “the man” and the feet are going up. 

I am outta here! Life plan? No kidding, it’s retirement. 

The money is just about enough…the debts are nil…..I’ve done fairly well….. give me my parachute!

Getting to the magic age when we can say goodbye to our 9-5 job and enjoy our freedom is a big golden dream that carries many folks through employment thick and thin. Lawyer, manager, caretaker or caregiver…the vision carries us on.

As we work our hours and pay our retirement and pension plans, we look forward to this like a desert hiker looks forward to a glass of water. Schemes and dreams as we build the means and endless panting blather to whoever will listen. 

The plan is solid…..we think, without realizing that we are just focusing on the financial part of retirement and forgetting what we really need is a life plan.

How is retirement like?

Having fun yet?

Are you enjoying your retirement?

The dream is thinning like a New England fog. A massive billboard comes up on the Life Highway with an Uncle Sam like finger-pointing at our forehead saying “YOU ARE BORED”.

OK…something part-time so I don’t have to stare at the dog 24/7. Not so easy. 

We can hardly find jobs even at the burger-flipping level because there are so many young ones in line ahead. 

Even volunteer jobs are tough to find as students compete to complete their community involvement points required by most schools. 

Try to get an extra street to canvass in the annual Stroke and Heart door to door and the granny mafia will attack with umbrellas.

Some have gone online, opened a blog and are doing very well.  (Thank goodness for WordPress and its ilk). Others build trains, fly miniature planes, paint and sculpt or just become pests as an unwanted neighbourhood watch peeking out their windows.

Each of us has a different experience. I have friends who are very happy working in their garden, doing crafts, becoming full-time grandparents and washing their cars.

Some have gone online, opened a blog and are doing very well. Others build trains, fly miniature planes, paint and sculpt or just become pests as an unwanted neighbourhood watch peeking out their windows.

Did you have a life plan for retirement? Below are some of the varied answers we get:

Yes, I planned very well my life after retiring from my job

No, I just wanted out, I did not even bother to think about it

I had dreams of things I wanted to do but did not really plan for it

I had ideas but that’s all

Bismarck, the master planner of 65 as the key retirement age didn’t talk much about life planning as he assumed we would all be dead at 67. (He was right in the late 19th century). A lifetime of bad food, dangerous jobs and quixotic health care usually didn’t result in a long leisurely retirement.

The world then was a bad Dickens novel with brutish and short as key descriptors of life. This does not seem to be true now when people are still healthy when they retire and hang on for 2 decades or more before eternity.

The first day…..the first month….maybe the first six months……”man…this is livin'” After a year in retirement, when we have read books till we Kindle Callused and played golf/tennis/tai chi till the image palled. 

When you have visited all the places on your bucket list and listened to Bach until your eyes were crossed…. so many retirees, yourself included, realize that the books look blurred, the games are slow motion and the travel budget is competing with the insurance bills. Hmmmmmm. 

7 Reasons to Celebrate Ageing

Celebrating Ageing
Celebrating Ageing in a Song

Ageing with anger is a speciality of Irish poets, American novelists and aahhhhh maybe, Indian pilots. For the rest of us, ageing can be an absolute joy.

If we’re very lucky, a sense of grace falls over us and although enigmatic smiles sometimes betray indigestion or even secret flatulence, they can also suggest that we’ve come to terms with our lives, that we can live with our own histories, that we’re not competitive in our legacies and that the world is not only the place to be but by far the best.

Money could be a part of this but looking at poor villagers in any Asian country, the smile of peace is there, the sense of being a part of a family’s history and its endless future has brought watchful contentment. 

Here are a few key reasons that ageing can be a blessing:

1. We enjoy life

Laughing at our own and others foibles leads to curious glances from others but it can really make an average day a good one.

My friend recently told me that sometimes while doing something very ordinary as cleaning her house, she stops and enjoys the fact that she feels really happy. We seldom felt this before if we ever did. We were so busy with living that we did not have time to pause and just feel our joy.

But now, we do have the time to savour whatever we feel and better still, whatever it is we are feeling, they no longer threaten us. Lfe has taught us that nothing really stays. The next moment, it’s going to be different. Everything turns for the good.

2. We celebrate what we have 

We have climbed the mountains, we poked around in a few of the depths. and we can now relax and stop wrestling with missed promises.

We have nothing to prove. We’ve gone beyond that. If you still are trying to outdo your friends. you have not grown. By this time, your friends know you very well and accept you as you are, so, relax and accept yourself and enjoy life by just being you.

Some in our circle of Seniors have not yet reached this moment of self acceptance. They still try to prove they are somebody so they get stressed at little things which do not support their image of themselves. They do everything to prove that they are better than anyone else and pressure their kids to enhance their image. But because we really can’t control circumstances and people like our kids, we get frustrated and eventually depressed.

With depression comes poor health and sickness. It’s our way of manipulating people and events. Our Senior years must not be like this. It must be enjoyed and lived joyfully. Let the cares and concerns of our earlier lives go and embrace what is, enjoy it and cherish whatever you have.

Nothing like the breath of life felt every morning could compare to all these concerns. Enjoy every day. Remember, we have limited supply of these so enjoy every moment.

3. We accept our shortcomings

In our 40s and 50s, mirrors are a tragedy. As we age, and gently become self caricatures not just physically but emotionally, our weaknesses fit in nicely to the thing we’ve become.

No longer do we have shortcomings. We realize that shortcomings are part of life and will always be there. We know this from experience so we are now able to laugh when we look at them. We can’t deny the aching body, the stooping posture, the wrinkled face, the constant reminder of arthritis, the blurred vision. We do something about them but we don’t let these stop us from enjoying our lives.

Yes, what we have become is what we celebrate in our Senior years. When we look at ourselves, each one of us, there are so many things we can celebrate in our last 60, 70, 80 or 90 years of life. Just the fact that we have reached this age alive, we should be happy. This, alone, is reason to celebrate.

4. We have clearer priorities mainly because we don’t have so many of them. 

We have time and space to focus on what is really important whether that’s learning or family or sports nostalgia or the craziness of politics. we can pick our spots. Besides, age has made us realize that only few things really matter. The many things we pursued when we were younger no longer have the same intensity in our Senior years.

5. We accept our grumpiness and go and hide when we feel it coming on. 

The random savaging of children, grandchildren and trim adherents are at last controlled.

Age has taught us that most things can be managed. Also, we have less stress so very few things worry us. We have reached an age when we know we can no longer do much so we let go.

6. We embrace everything that we are

More searching for who we really are? We’ve stopped that. We have accepted who we are, knowing it or not.

I remember the angst of younger years when we were driven by getting to know what careers fit us, what will I do with my life, how can I make myself better, what job will really be fun for me and many more. Now, I laugh at the fact that at my age, I still don’t really know myself and will never fully know as it reveals more each time I think I have a handle to what I really am.

7. Most importantly, we can sit back and reflect on our lives and the age we’ve lived through.

Even if our own story is not filled with drama, the headlines and achievements and tragedies of the world that have been our companion can consume hours of review and end with some tentative conclusions or insights that if we’re really careful, we can sell to the young as wisdom.

So, ageing is not the only thing we have ahead of us. It may also be the best time of life.

Introducing Seniors Futures

617 million are 65 or older. This data was first published in 2015 so the numbers have gone up. This is projected to increase to 1.6 billion by 2050, about 17% of the world’s population (An Ageing World, National Institute on Aging).

Because there are so many Seniors now, interest in what engages them and what interesting topics catch their attention have gone up. We Seniors should be happy and get engage with these interesting discussions.

This significant development on Seniors bring with it joys, wisdom, opportunities and plenty of challenges as the body starts its decline and the mind wanders off to memory lane.

There are many opportunities as well. I don’t think I can think of any other periods in history most comfortable for Seniors to be in. To go out, we have our own driver, Uber or Lyft. Any good we want to buy can be delivered straight to our doors. We have all kinds of researches on Seniors being done and medical professionals and caregivers to take care of our health.

This is the most significant area this site will highlight so Seniors can be on top of these recent development and understand its implications and applications to their own lives.

Not many of us lived healthier lives as we got into the challenges of our times so we now experience the results of that. We can’t hide them. The lines and contours show them well. Thus, this site.

Seniors Futures is a site conceived to dig deeper into the developments Seniors grapple with. From Finance, to Travel, to Grandparenting, to Health, to Style, Seniors face many new developments that can overwhelm them.

This site helps to make sense of all these developments and discuss some of these more thoroughly in more understandable ways.

I am Mary Norton and I have a Ph.D. in Organizational Development. I have seen in my work how many Seniors are now leaving the workplace. Lost after the structured life in the workplace, many walk around listlessly hoping someone would engage them.

Before, the engagement was there with the job, they had somewhere to go and something to do. Now, some find meaningful ways to respond to the new reality. Others, get lost and are unable to make sense of this new context.

As I am a Senior now, I get more interested in what my friends and colleagues share about ageing and growing old. Moreover, I go through these developments myself and like many of my Senior friends, we laugh at it many times as we share many of our Senior moments. At the same time, we worry about what the future holds. We get upset at things we don’t understand or find hard to understand.

In addition to the new reality, new technologies come and leave us unable to use many of its features. Just read the news on how predators on the Net prey on older people. It is upsetting.

The younger ones find these developments fun and make their lives easy but for us, Seniors, just finding our way to using many of these new technologies take several sessions with grandchildren.

So, to respond to this worry, we discuss these matters, read on these and seek confirmation in our own experience. This is what we want to share with you in this site.

This is not a scholarly site nor does it contain expert medical advice. No, the posts here are just the sharing of Seniors of what they go through. We hope that you will get involved more actively by making comments or sharing your own experience in the matters discussed in some of the posts.

It is our hope that we can build a community of Seniors willing to share and contribute to the discussion. You are invited to share and be part of our community. Your experience will be valuable to building a knowledge bank for Seniors.

7 Ways of Involving Family in Investment

Retired or not yet, this is one thing you and I need to think about. It becomes even more concerning when we advance in years. Often, people pass on and nobody in the family knows anything about their assets. Think now and start doing something. It is time.

Why Invest?

I still remember being a Grade 4 student and helping my sickly father think through investment strategies.

My job and wow, was I ever proud, was to do the math as he sorted out the cost implications of assorted investment options. I am not tall even as an adult, but I was at least 2 meters tall there as my sisters sat by while Papa and I were working.  

Maybe that’s why this particular incident has stayed so clearly etched in my mind. I never imagined then that I would end up earning money through investment myself and that it could be fun rather than struggling with bad health and searching for family rescue. 

But a few years ago when I discovered the Market, I pulled back quickly what my father had asked me to find solutions for, what costs to check out, how he compared the various investments such as real estate, investing in small companies, expanding our business, loaning money out and other choices. 

Years later, a close friend of mine whose family really amassed wealth shared with me how on weekends, her father would put the whole family in the car and just keep driving through the small towns and villages. 

When he saw land that he liked, he tracked down the owner and gave him an offer. The family had a great time with picnics and swimming around the Province and their parents had a ball looking for real estate they wanted to invest in. 

Although they pursued various careers, their mother always insisted they take real estate investing courses. And even though I was not a member of their family, my friend’s sharing opened my eyes wide enough that when my husband and I had some extra money, off we went scouring the villages well outside of the cities that could become cottage sites for wealthy boomers when they cashed in. 

Although we had day trips in some far-out areas, we were led back closer to home. You’ll never know what you’ll find when you search. This is the fun of the search and until now, we still have this riverfront property which we share with the bears who forage the wild berries and the beaver who savage the small trees but build great dams. 

We bring the grandchildren here (they scare off the bears) and we hope they get a sense of how actively we pursue investing. They ask questions and they start getting into conversations about land and cost, appreciation and markets. 

Last year, one University grandson brought a friend to stay with us and they, in desperation to start a conversation that didn’t include questions from us on beer consumption or ahhhhhh University life, started asking questions about things we had done to support the life we are currently revelling in. 

We tried our best to tell the story with its peaks and valleys and tiny bits of real knowledge. A month later, while sitting outside watching Seadoos, sailboats and floating docks trying to share the same space simultaneously, the grandson, as an opener so his search for beer would be less blatant, came to inform me that the same friend had just bought BP shares. YES BP, the one company with more disasters and thus, more to prove than a 20-year-old male. 

I was happy that somehow he had learned to start investing early and to think about potential and risk and the impact of ego on the market. They will have successes and failures, gains and profits, but they have learned early to create wealth. 

Our grandson now has a job and has invested in Boeing. It is his choice and we encourage it. The earlier they learn how to choose stocks on their own, the better it is. They have more than enough information online to make a go of it. And if they fail, it is a lesson well learned.

Don’t Force It

We only talk about investing when they ask, although they hear us chatting with each other. And they see us hunker in our computer bunker to track our stocks’ performance or see us scour the papers on our Kindles for news we can use. Tsunami in Japan? Hmmmmm. What does that mean for insurance stock? Will they rebuild with wood and if so, from where? Will the Atomic Reactor problems affect future plans for more reactors and so the demand for uranium? A great detective game and really engaging. 

Sometimes, kids browse through books you leave around in your living area. When you stick it to them, chances are they’ll set these aside but just have a few lying around. A page or two once in a while will make them think a bit.

Ways of Involving your Family in Investment Decisions

Depending on you and your family relationships, there are many ways of involving your family in investment decisions:

1. Do your investing as a family team. They look and watch and even if they seem disinterested, believe me, they are if you can make it fun. 

2. Bring them to your bank or your real estate transactions. They will learn some points even if they don’t talk about it and they’ll learn about good manners in discussions and respect and even a bit about negotiating.

3. Ask them relevant questions. Engage them on discussion on what their friends are buying and what young people go for these days and invest in one of these companies and track this with them.

Gain or loss, the important thing is the lesson, but choose well as gains are always great incentives. Toys for the youngest (Mattel, Disney, Hasbro) and maybe fashion or electronics as they grow up a bit. 

Ask them to help you do some investment tasks like research and find out how a new product is doing in the market. They have a keener insight into choices made by their peers than you have (New soft drinks, franchise restaurants with new lines, Playbooks and Android). Recognize their help. This will boost their confidence or make them learn a lesson they can use when they invest their own money. 

4. When they show readiness, give them the knowledge necessary as well as the opportunities to build their skills. There are many transactions kids have to learn to manage their own money but often parents are so protective that they deprive them of learning what will help them eventually live their own lives.

Money is an instrument. When they need money, they will learn how to go about certain financial transactions. We have to trust their judgment without crushing them. Maybe a debit card to start. We need to give them space as they learn how to think through money. 

5. Show them how to manage money. To do this, some of our grandchildren are given their monthly allowance by their parents, placed in their bank account and they have their debit card to use whenever they need the money. They don’t have to come and ask, but they can’t spend more than is in the account. They know they have this amount for the month. With phones top-up cards only. Their spending habits immediately become more considered and a bit of quick math with a squinted left eye goes on before each purchase, and phone calls get seriously short.

When it first started, the eldest blew his allowance immediately on an expensive t-shirt with mysterious iconography understood only by sophomores. A rough penurious month followed, but the lesson was learned (sort of) and careful management (sort of) is now the norm. At least, no monthly bankruptcies.

The second grandson (we call him Silas) keeps his money and holds on to it right to the end of the month to meet targets such as upgrading his drums or buying some Alice Cooper endorsed nail polish. 

6. Gift them stocks on special occasions. They can choose what stocks to buy. You can discuss with them what guidelines to follow or ask them to use what they’ve learned if you followed earlier points and taught them a bit.

They can research on their own online as there is a truckload of information on every investment instrument out there. Once they own the stock, you can track its performance with them and explain market fluctuations and how to manage that. Greed and Fear! 

7. Encourage discipline. They will learn in the process. The eldest always ask not to give him too much money. He knows himself. So, your intervention would be to give enough, but maybe match savings at the end of the month. It is good to know their spending habits early so you can nudge a bit or intervene and manage the process. Maybe residence the first year at College so at least they get food if all else fails!

You need to be disciplined yourself so you don’t give in to the same feckless requests you used 40 or 50 years ago. 

There are many ways you can involve the family in your investment decisions. Celebrate when you gain so there is a strong incentive for them to be part of the process. Laugh and show what happened when you blow it. It will make you seem more human! 

But above all, know that each child or grandchild is unique and thus, will have different interests. Encourage those who are interested but don’t force those who are not. They follow a different drummer. Not everyone has to be a savvy investor.