Retirement can be a fulfilling, engaging time of life – when planned for properly. Because retirement comes with so many big-picture decisions to make, such as when and where to retire, it may be easy to overlook other details as you make your plan, which can lead to dire complications down the road. Here are some of the biggest mistakes you can plan now to avoid.

Appreciating Long-Term Care Insurance too little, too late

People usually approach retirement knowing their physical abilities and health may decline significantly over a period of years later in life. However, the misconceptions about what to do about that abound. Many people falsely believe Medicare covers all types of retirement living – and must scramble to make arrangements when they learn it doesn’t. While Medicare may cover skilled nursing care, it only does so for a limited time, after which you could find yourself paying out of pocket for costly care. If you develop a need for hands-on personal care like bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, and other activities of daily living you might be surprised to find that Medicare does not provide for those services long term. By the time you realize this, you may have waited too late to purchase Long-Term Care Insurance – because the older you are, the less likely you’ll be accepted for a policy. While this coverage is expensive, it is a valuable asset and can be a good value if you plan early and carefully.

Not planning for an eventual change of condition

Coasting blindly toward a health crisis is never a good idea, but planning in advance for one is – and having access to a geriatric care manager can provide you with a wealth of insight into how to plan for this aspect of your retirement. These specialists advocate for your needs and finds ways to meet them, which can be especially helpful in negotiating with and selecting caregivers, coordinating services, and many other capacities. Along this line of planning, you should also give careful thought to how you’ll want to receive care – whether through professional, in-home caregivers or by moving to a licensed community that specializes in caring for elderly residents.

Avoiding power of attorney conversations

Putting off this discussion with your loved ones could be a prescription for eventual disaster. By not putting in place this legal document, which designates a trusted friend or family member to make important decisions for you and ensure that your wishes are carried out, you put your very future at risk. Your power of attorney can be an indispensable tool when you need it – but only if you have one in place. Don’t make the mistake of simply assigning a medical or financial power of attorney without first having in depth conversations with those you choose to appoint. Be sure they fully understand your directives and how you expect them to be followed. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they will do the right thing before you take the time to confirm they completely understand your wishes and what you believe the right course of action would be. Then you need to be confident they are comfortable with the advance directives you have shared with them and have no reservations about following them accordingly.

Maintaining the mindset of “I’m not ready yet”

Procrastinating on planning specifics of your retirement may not cause you discomfort in the beginning of your journey, but continually delaying important decisions can wreak havoc when you are ultimately faced with unexpected circumstances. Planning out your retirement years in advance ensures you remain in control for the rest of your life, giving you the opportunity to make your own decisions about what your retirement looks like for you – and how you’ll get there. Waiting too late to make your plans can close doors of opportunity to you and force others to make decisions on your behalf. It’s never too early to start your discovery process. Use the luxury of time to your advantage and start your planning before you need to move forward with it. There’s no time like the present to plan for the future.

About the Author: Michelle Watkins
After many years of working in the industry of retirement living, Michelle now serves as a Retirement Counselor and Marketing Director of Brazos Towers at Bayou Manor. Helping seniors successfully navigate their choices by better understanding the differences between communities and the services they offer is an important part of her daily role. Whether these individuals end up moving to Brazos Towers at Bayou Manor, or somewhere else, Michelle knows that she and her team have succeeded if visitors leave with the information and tools they need to create a plan that will allow them to thrive in the next chapter of their lives.

Please call me at 713-660-5033 to schedule your complimentary retirement planning consultation. Or feel free to email me at michelle.watkins@houstonretirement.org.