To retire, start early, have a plan and try a cash diet

Our ‘Golden Years’ are all about saving enough money – but having choice, independence and agency is more important

Written by Murray Stettner

Some financial advisors act as geriatricians, to help retirees and retirees lead healthier lives

If you are a retired or former retiree, your financial advisor may work as an amateur geriatrician with you. That’s because some counselors also see themselves as life coaches, giving advice to older clients on how to boost longevity and enjoy a healthier, more vibrant retirement.

“Counsellors want their clients to have choice, power, and agency in their earlier years,” said Regina Koepp, a clinical psychologist in Vermont. “So they may want to share the gold standard information on how to age successfully.”

For example, Koepp cites the World Council on Brain Health as a good resource for lifestyle advice to improve brain function as we age. Consultants can direct clients to the council’s media content.

For clients intending to live to old age, counselors can link them to longevity research or summarize the latest findings in their clients’ newsletter.

Anthony Cirillo, an expert on aging and caregiving in Huntersville, North Carolina, highlights lessons learned from the so-called blue zones of the world – places where residents tend to live longer and healthier lives. There are two main takeaways from these areas: Seniors who have a purpose or mission in life – and who remain physically and mentally active – are ideally suited to savor more of their golden years. “A counselor can direct clients to participate in a charitable or volunteer work that gives their lives a greater purpose,” Cirillo said.

While it is inappropriate to suggest that a client should lose weight or go to the gym, there are subtle ways in which counselors can induce clients to take action. For example, a counselor can set an example by telling clients about their personal daily fitness routine – and inviting them to join. “You don’t want to preach,” Cirillo warned. “I’m 65, and I can tell you we don’t like being lectured.”

Another component of healthy aging, he adds, includes injecting a sense of humor into life. At least one good laugh every day is a good goal. A counselor might start a movie club and invite clients to watch a comedy and choose their funniest scenes, hold client appreciation events at a comedy club or set up readings of skits.

Cirillo adds that lifelong learning is also important. Consultants can tell clients that they are enrolled in an online course and invite them to sign up as well.

If clients experience health issues – whether mental or physical – counselors are unwilling to overstep their bounds and offer amateur medical advice. But it is okay to raise awareness of the community resources that customers can benefit from.

For clients who experience loneliness and could benefit from increased socialization, counselors can provide information about local seniors’ centers, home visitor services, and programs such as the Village-to-Village Network that help seniors combat isolation and remain independent.

Frame it in terms of opportunity versus “look depressed and have to go out more,” said Jan Machler, director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. “Link them to resources as a way they can extend their lives” in a positive way.

It enables them to become more self-aware,” said Thomas West, an advisor at Signature Estate & Investment Advisors in Tysons, Virginia. Consultants who inquire about clients’ aspirations and expectations as they age can tailor advice to suit their needs. Perhaps the best question to start with is the simplest: What is most important to you?

More: “She never explained anything”: I’m a senior citizen and I lost $100,000 in the stock market this year. Can I sue my financial advisor?

Plus: “After you die, you can’t explain it.” Parents usually divide their property equally among their children. But if they don’t – beware

– Murray Stettner

 

(end) Dow Jones Newswires

10-15-22 0831ET

Copyright(c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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