Aging and Adaptability

Older coupleIn life, as in business, adaptability is a key to success.

How many big changes have you gone through in your life?

Some may have been hoped-for changes that led you to a great place or great people and some may have been unexpected, sad, or even heartbreaking.

Many changes we have no control over at all and our only power is to control how we react to them.

My husband and I are fairly adaptable. This may be attributed to our somewhat nomadic childhoods, or to our personalities, but we handle unexpected change pretty well.

We are now at the stage in our lives when it is time again to plan for the future.

You remember, you did that back when you first got married, when the children came along and you adjusted the plan, and when the children went off to school, etc. and you adjusted once again. Guess what! Retirement, whatever that may mean to you, looms ahead and requires another adjustment.

We recently met with financial advisers to get an idea of what our “retirement” looks like. I have been a full-time volunteer for many years now, but my husband is still working. I expected to trot out the bank statements, pay stubs, and all of that financial stuff, but they surprised me.

They started asking questions that were immediate in nature.

What does retirement mean to us?  

Turns out, it doesn’t mean unemployment for either of us anytime soon. My husband is enjoying his latest job as much as any he has ever had, and I am doing exactly what I love to do for my nonprofits.

What big expenses do we expect in the next few years? 

We started talking about this, and we know that potentially two weddings are out there for us, we want to travel a bit more, and most importantly, we think we would like to continue the tradition that my husband’s mom and dad started when our older daughter was just a baby. Each year, they flew the entire family somewhere fun for a week and we just spent time together. It was precious time, as it turned out, and we are so grateful for the videos and the photos that take us back every time we pull them out to enjoy the memories.

“Yes!” we said, “We want to do THAT!”

A couple of years ago, mostly in order to cut my husband’s commute to his new job, we moved to a downtown high-rise condo. It was by far the smallest place we had lived in since getting married, but it is just right for two and very well designed. We have been happy here, but I asked him, “If you do retire at some point, do you think you would want to stay in the condo?”

He thought about it for a bit and said, “You know, I think I would. I like being downtown and walking everywhere; I like having neighbors, and most of all, I really like not having a yard and house to maintain!”

“What about you?”

“I like it, too, I said, “I think it keeps me adaptable, learning new things, and meeting new people. Those are all things I enjoy and would like to keep doing for the foreseeable future!”

So, the living arrangements are set, the commitment to be with our girls and their future families at LEAST once a year for an extended time is set, and we are working our way toward simplifying finances, updating wills and making sure that if either of us leaves this life first, the other has information and tools to provide comfort and security until we are together again.

If you are struggling with issues of aging, whether for yourselves or your parents, this is a resource we have found invaluable in the Austin area: Accountable Aging. They have helped with my mother’s Medicare, Prescription Coverage and more.

Plan, prepare, but leave flexibility in your life for the unexpected. Practice being adaptable. Sometimes it can be just what you need to truly enjoy yourselves.

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