Dealing With the Unexpected in Retirement


Life is full of surprises – some good and others not so. Whatever fate has in store each of us must find a way to deal with what comes our way. We play the cards we are dealt, learning as we go, hopefully not too often repeating the same mistakes. Our education might be straight forward seasoned with a healthy dose of common sense. Or we might need to call upon a certain inner strength to guide us safely through troubled waters.

Some surprises are less-than earth shattering in significance. They present themselves as mere pains in the butt, distractions along an otherwise pretty smooth road. We expect to have to deal with many situations in life. But what about those unexpected out-of-the-blue experiences we don’t see coming?

Did you know that your passport expiration date must be at least 90 days beyond the date of your scheduled return from a trip? I learned this recently while in line at San Francisco International airport. With luggage in tow my wife and I were blissfully expecting to depart a few hours hence on a month long escape to Switzerland. It was not to be. “You can’t travel on this passport.” I was informed I had no alternative but to go to the local federal passport building to apply for a same day passport. As luck had it the next day was Labor Day a wonderful holiday that happens to shut down all government agencies. Another day lost.

We could have bemoaned our situation but instead made the best of the cards we had been dealt. We were in San Francisco, a spot travelers from around the world hungrily journey to. So we found a last minute deal online and booked a hotel for two nights. We then proceeded to walk the town journeying to beautiful Noe Valley, touring ostentatious and glitzy Nob Hill, exploring the latest pizza hot spot in SOMA, and just kicking it in The City. Our experience at the federal building went unexpectedly smoothly and we were soon on our way arriving in Zurich a few days late but safely and with my brand new 10-year passport in hand.

No matter what age navigating the unexpected can be challenging. And nothing gets easier as you get older.

What would you do if in your early fifties you suddenly found yourself out of a job – right sized out or phased out or just plain laid off? It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact a lifetime spent building and honing your skills is suddenly deemed worthless. With companies laser focused on cutting costs regardless of the impact on lives this undesirable situation is a stark reality for many. And your options are not always many. Some are forced to move into a lower status (and paying) role to make ends meet. Others find themselves pushed into some kind of early retirement, underfunded and unexpected with an uncertain future.

Recent weather extremes have rattled many a cage. From the epic flooding in Texas to the path of destruction left by hurricane Irma to fires that rage once again across California, many are learning to expect the unexpected from Mother Nature. How do you cope with the total destruction of your home? What words of consolation are there for the frustration felt having to recover from the ravages of forces beyond your control?

How we deal with unexpected events can pave the road to our future happiness or lack thereof. No one can wave a magic wand and make everything better. But we can try to make the best of a bad situation. Life events can feel overwhelming but maybe less so if we try to actively do something about it. And nowhere is it more important to take an active role than in the case of planning for retirement.

How can we make our individual challenge less so? What is within our individual power to impact our situation? We don’t have to do it all on our own. Family and friends are there to lean on and provide support. Getting through unexpected times calls for us to utilize all of our tools, our contacts, our networks and whatever else might help.

Not all unexpected events are negative. More easily dealt with are joyous announcements of pending weddings or births. Far less intimidating are ecstatic calls received when kids describing the new “perfect job” they just landed. Uplifting are those times when your tomato crop exceeds your wildest expectations. There are plenty of good unexpected surprises in life.

We can expect the unexpected to be a mix of positive moments as well as challenges. Hopefully the scale tips in our favor. How we handle these ups and downs will define the person we are and the quality of the retired life we live. Good luck to us all. And while you have a moment why not double check the expiration of that passport of yours. No need to unnecessarily add stress to your next airport encounter.

Facts to Know About Buying a Retirement Condo

Written by John Moran

If you and your spouse are looking for a new place to call home for your Golden Years and retirement, you may be considering purchasing a new home or condo.

There are a many number of reasons why condos are preferred for retired individuals. Condos require less work and allow its residents to travel without fear of break ins or damage. Condos also come with allowing residents to not worry greatly about maintaining outdoor areas such as yard work or exterior upkeep.

There is no doubt that there are great aspects of owning either a home or a condo. That being said, it is up to you to figure out which choice best fits you and your spouse’s desire for lifestyle when it comes to your retirement years.

For that reason, it is crucial that you know what it means to purchase a retirement condo. So here are some of the most important facts to know about buying a condo for your retirement.

The built-in community can be good…and bad

As an owner of a condo, unlike being the owner of a single-family home, you will be part of a community where majority rules when it comes to major decisions to make. This can certainly lead to frustration. The condo board might decide to use a portion of your monthly HOA dues to pay for amenities or repairs that you do not want.

That being said, that community does mean that you will easily be able to make friends and meet your neighbors. Whether you are simply walking along the hallway day-to-day, or engaging in some of the events that the HOA has set up, condo complexes offer a fantastic opportunity to build a community of friends and neighbors.

Either way, it is crucial that you review your buildings’ financial records, bylaws and other documents before you finalize the purchase.  

Condos often offer state-of-the-art features

It is quite often that homes require upgrades the moment you purchase them. Whether it’s upgrading appliances, turning your home into a smart home, or a more drastic renovation, it is quite possible that you will not be spending money once you make your down payment.

When it comes to condos, they typically come with state-of-the-art features already. Whether its granite counters, stainless and smart appliances, or an open floor plan, condos are typically great at keeping up-to-date with the latest (and longest lasting) trends.

That being said, if you want to make renovations of your own, there are typically more hoops that you have to jump through compared to when you own your own home. The HOA will typically require approving any renovations that you want to make, which could have an impact on the time, cost and ease in which you get those changes made.

 Condo fees generally continue to rise

This is especially true if the building is a classic or a bit older. Typically, these fees are to maintain upkeep of the building and make sure that the building is a pleasant place to live for you and all of your neighbors.

That being said, it can be quite frustrating to have to pay higher HOA fees for amenities or repairs that you are not interested in having (as previously mentioned).

Security measures can be great, or annoying

James of explains what security features you can expect if you choose to purchase a condo.

“Condos are widely known for having pretty fantastic security. Whether it’s multiple-door security that requires key fobs, cameras on the outside and inside of the building, or even a dedicated security staff, there is a general sense of safety that many residents of condos feel that homeowners simply do not.”

This added security can be fantastic if you work at odd hours of the night, have fears of being alone, or are older and don’t feel comfortable defending yourself should the worst happen.

That being said, that kind of security can be rather annoying if you do not want or need it.

Condos can bring basic life needs to you

More and more, condo developers have found ways to bring the basic necessities of life to your doorstep. Buildings often have markets or grocers of the first floor, state-of-the-art gyms, even dog-sitting and walking services are known to be available in condo complexes.

Of course, there are some downsides to this way of life. Some who end up calling a condo home will find that their life becomes insular as the need to leave the building shrinks. Certainly, this is something that every single person can control, but sometimes people do tend to fall back on what is easiest for them.

Selling your condo

This is something that you may not have to really worry about if you plan on spending the rest of your retirement in your new condo, but it is still something to keep in mind. Before you decide to sign on the dotted line and finalize the purchase for you condo, you should make sure to look into the future and consider the marketability of your new unit if you should wish to move.

This is also something to keep in mind if you plan on passing down your condo to your children, or want to sell it if you plan to move to a retirement home later in life.

One of the key drawbacks of buying a condo is that your unit will never be more than an identical unit, plus upgrades. Your investment relies directly on surround sales. That means that if another owner sells at a cheap price, that could very well impact your market value.

On top of that, the condo complex may not qualify for an FHA loan. That’s because the occupancy percentage of owners vs. tenants could exceed 50 percent. As a result of that, a purchaser would need to pay cash or obtain a conventional type of loan or mortgage in order to complete the down payment.

This restriction could impact your ability to sell and could impact the value of your condo.

Remodeling Your Home For Retirement

Written by Sally Perkins

As you head towards retirement, one of the questions you will face is: What do I do with my home? Do I move or downsize? Is this home right for my changing needs? A rising number of senior homeowners prefer to age in place, and their reasons hold a lot of validity. Continued independence and the comfort/sentimentality of a family home are two very understandable reasons why retirees would want to stay in their homes. However, just as your finances need to be prepared for retirement, so should your home. Taking steps to modify your home for life after retiring helps you prepare for challenges faced when transitioning to retirement, and can help you achieve that goal of independence later on in life.

Dedicate Spare Space For A Hobby Or Exercise

The physical and mental health benefits of including exercise in retirement have been well documented over the past few years. Regular exercise and activity can help to strengthen your bones and combat pain and osteoporosis. It can also improve your balance and mobility. As a result, your chances of falling are reduced. Around 1 in every 4 Americans aged 65 and older fall annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, taking up a hobby such as hiking, painting or pottery not only helps you stay active in retirement but can help you maintain good brain health.

By the time you approach retirement age, chances are that most of your children will have moved on, either to college or into a home of their own. Retirement is the prime period where seniors wonder if it is time to downsize – possibly due to the now vacant space. Instead, you can turn empty bedrooms into an at-home gym or hobby studio. If you are short on space, you can also consider creating a basement gym, although the stairs may become tricky as you age. This is a minimal change remodeling idea. Most times, the structure of the home does not need to be changed, and minor changes such as painting and window installations to help control ventilation and lighting. For states like Arizona where temperatures can rise, larger or more windows can provide much-needed relief.

Lower Floor Access To An En-Suite

You may want to consider moving your master bedroom downstairs or creating a new guest suite so that your living quarters are not on split levels. Ranch homes and their single level open floor plans are already popular in states such as Texas and Georgia. With the concept being quite common in Texas, many contractors that offer Austin home remodeling services or remodeling in other cities will be well versed in recommending the ideal open floor remodeling changes needed for your home. In the event you do not currently have space downstairs, this may call for an extension. Remodeling’s Cost Vs Value Report showed a master suite addition can add $69,807 to your resale value. For those with space, the remodeling may include repurposing rooms into a new master bedroom. 

Updating Your Kitchen And Bathroom Floors

Another remodeling idea for those entering the retirement phase of their lives is to switch out their flooring. Flooring choices combined with declining mobility or strength often result in falls. Around 20 percent of falls result in a serious head injury or broken bones. Making the switch early on has two purposes: it helps to prepare for and avoid slips, and it can improve the value of your home. Coming up to retirement and after raising a family, floors can take a lot of wear and tear. 

If you have been in your home long term, your flooring materials such as carpets may be at the end of their useful life. When choosing a replacement, go for an option that is easy to maintain/clean, accessible even with mobility aids, and slip-resistant like Coretec Plus or Cork Flooring. Consult with a remodeler, who will be able to advise you on the best options for anti-slip flooring in your kitchen and bathrooms. In the bathroom, electric under tile heating is another change to be considered. They may also suggest the installation of grabs bars near the shower, and swapping your toilet or shower to a walk-in shower. 

Aging at home has many benefits. It minimizes changes and offers security. However, you do need to prepare your home for retirement and all that comes with it. Investing in certain home remodels before you do enter retirement can not only boost your home market value, but will ensure that your home is the best-suited option for your changing needs.

How to Stay Healthy in Old Age

Written by Joel Dodds

As we get older, the importance of staying healthy and looking after our minds and bodies increases. With older age comes a higher likelihood of being affected by diseases like stroke, heart disease and diabetes, all of which we can prevent with the right approach to diet and lifestyle.

Living a healthier lifestyle during your retirement years can help you to cut back on expensive medical costs and live a happier and lower-stress life. Here are some simple steps to follow if you want to learn how to stay healthy in old age:

1.       Practice healthy eating habits

Eating the right foods can be more challenging as you get older, especially if you have a disability that makes shopping for food or home-cooking fresh meals more difficult. Old age may also bring changes to your metabolism and appetite that simply make eating less appealing. However, it’s incredibly important to eat a diet of high protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals if you want to stay at your healthiest. Ask a friend or family member for support if you need help preparing meals.

2.       Get your sleep

Getting older is a funny thing: you seem to want to sleep less at night, then find yourself napping sporadically throughout the day. This random sleeping cycle might not be the best thing for your health, so it’s worth reassessing your current sleeping habits and focusing on getting more shuteye during the night-time hours. If your mattress is an issue, look for the best mattress for seniors and make the investment.

3.       Socialise and enjoy life

No matter what your age, poor mental health can significantly affect not only your lifespan, but your quality of life. It’s easier to become isolated with old age, and you may be faced with a number of challenges, like poor physical health and losing a loved one. However, channelling your inner mental strength is important, even while it might feel hard. Reach out to family and friends, and make sure to stay sociable. Take up new hobbies and make the most out of life.

4.       Stay active

It’s natural that as you get older, you might not fancy a jog around the block every morning (although good for you if you do!). It’s often better to respect your current physical condition and go for an activity that’s more appropriate for you, such as a walk in the park, swimming, or practicing yoga, which has been found to have a positive effect on hypertension in seniors. Consult your GP before taking up a new exercise regimen.

5.       Train your brain

Just like our bodies still need physical exercise when we’re older, so do our brains. Older age brings with it the increased risk of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s, and keeping your brain active can help prevent mental degeneration. Give word puzzles and crosswords a go if you feel like you’re spending too much time in front of the TV. Studies have even found that regular brain exercises in older people can improve cognitive functions and working memory.