Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 11 Retirement 1

Dentists: 3 questions that predict future quality of life

Nov. 4, 2016
What does your future hold as you move closer to retirement? No one can predict their future, but there are a few things you can do to make aging easier. Start with these three questions.

What does your future hold as you move closer to retirement? No one can predict their future, but there are a few things you can do to make aging easier. Start with these three questions.

Jane Smith, age 49, paid a visit to her family doctor. Jane had recently gone through a comprehensive medical checkup to assess her current health status and learn whether there were any health conditions that would cause her concern. She revisited her doctor for the results of those tests. After going through the papers, her doctor said she was doing "fairly well" for her age.

Jane asked, "Doctor, with my current health status, and the good results you see there, do you think I could live to be 80?"
The doctor asked, "Well, let’s see. Do you drink beer or smoke, even occasionally?"
"No I don’t," she responded, "I've never done either."
The doctor asked, "Do you eat barbecued ribs or grilled steaks?”
“I've heard that red meat is very unhealthy, so I’ve not been a fan of those," Jane answered.
"Do you stay out in the sun for long hours, like when you’re playing golf?" the doctor continued.
"No, I don't," Jane replied.
Then the doctor asked, "Hmmm, do you drive fast cars, or relentlessly gamble or mess around with men?"
"No," said Jane, "I've never done any of those things."
The doctor looked at Jane and asked, "Then why do you want to live to be 80?”

Does Jane’s situation sound familiar? Like many people after the age of 45 or so, Jane would like to determine what lies ahead for her. Aging gracefully means different things to different people.

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This is where studies conducted by the AgeLab at MIT can help. MIT AgeLab is a multidisciplinary organization and an integral part of the MIT School of Engineering. Its goal is to learn and capture consumer preferences and demographic trends of those over age 45, and study how changes in demographics, technology, and culture are impacting the way we do things.

MIT AgeLab has come up with creative ideas to help improve people's health and enable them to find fulfillment. The study helps people understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity. MIT AgeLab has identified a simple, three-step self-inquiry that can assess how equipped people are to live well into retirement. To make its vision more tangible, AgeLab uses the symbols of a light bulb, ice cream cone, and lunch to represent what quality of life is all about.

AgeLab identified three questions that reveal important factors in determining someone’s future quality of life and retirement. All three are related to retirement planning. When it comes to retirement preparation, people often focus on accumulating assets and ensuring that they spend their money sensibly. Although it distresses people to think that they might outlive their wealth, people generally overlook the fact that they may not be able to do some of the basic things that will make them feel fulfilled as they grow older.

As we age, adapting to changing priorities might become more difficult. Balancing the needs of several generations—perhaps caring both for children and parents while also working—can increase the “volume” in the generational scale. Our ability to respond to changes and challenges determines the velocity necessary to keep up with everything in our lives.

Your financial advisor should integrate these issues into a comprehensive planning discussion. Thinking about how to live comfortably, both financially and in other ways, can make an ambiguous retirement future, often decades away, more tangible and can help you commit to preparing for your retirement.

3questions to lead you to a quality retirement

1. Who will change my lightbulbs?
This may seem like a mundane household occurrence, but look closer. When you're 85, going up a ladder to change a lightbulb is not as humdrum as it used to be. Simple actions can pose a challenge as you age. You might not have the means available to get help when needed. Since help at home may be in short supply as we grow older, it's good to prepare for long-term home maintenance as early as now. Ask, "Do I have plans for how to maintain my home when I become old and alone?" Identifying the possible costs of home modifications and trusted service providers is a critical part of preparing for retirement.

2. How will I get an ice cream cone?
Picture this—a hot summer night, the perfect time to get an ice cream cone. As you age, will you have the capacity and means to easily and routinely access the little joys? Quality of life often hinges on such simple joys, which may not be as easy for you they used to be. Transportation may be a challenge as your legs and eyesight weaken. So while having an ice cream cone is not a financial stress, the means and method to get to your cone, or any simple joy, may pose difficulty or frustration. Preparing for alternatives that will enable you to get your simple joys when you want them can give you a more comfortable and fulfilled life as you age.

3. Who will I have lunch with?
Lunch can be one of the most satisfying and gratifying occasions of everyday life. It's a short instance to celebrate togetherness and camaraderie with people who share your thoughts, aspirations, and challenges, and who make your life healthy, active, and profound.

Even if you're financially stable, living on your own without social support can make life unhealthy as you age. Currently, more than 40% of 65-year-old women in the United States live on their own. It’s clear that planning where to retire and whom to spend their retirement with may be as imperative as knowing the cost. As much as you want to retire in the mountains, this might separate you from your friends and make you secluded and alone. But if you prepare yourself for a retirement of fulfillment in all aspects of your aging life, you'll be able to enjoy the occasional lunch with friends.

Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” As we grow older, that becomes more true. Thanks to the research of MIT AgeLab, we have three great questions that can help us determine our quality of life as we age and prepare us for a future that "ain’t what it used to be."

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Tim McNeely is CEO of LifeStone Wealth Management, a dental-only wealth management firm that works with a limited number of dentists for whom it can have a significant impact. Tim married a dentist, Dana Yeoman, DDS, and has learned what the life of a dentist is like. After seeing his wife's frustration with running a dental practice, Tim set out to make things simple. Since then he has advised hundreds of dentists on wealth management issues. He was recognized as a “Best Financial Advisor for Dentists” by Dental Products Report for four years. For a free copy of the "Quality of Life Worksheet" or a second opinion on your complex financial life, contact Tim at [email protected] or call (818) 534-4949.

LifeStone Wealth Management is an independent firm located at 18919 Nordhoff St., Suite 6C, Northridge CA 91324. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Any opinions here, are those of Tim McNeely and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James and LifeStone Wealth Management are not affiliated with MIT Agelab.