Here’s a question for you, what do I have in common with Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jamie Lee Curtis?
How about Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, and Drew Carey?
If you guessed that we are all turning 65 this year, you would be right.
All of us, along with another 3.65 million Americans will become – wait for it – senior citizens.
Fortunately for me, I work in the senior service industry and have been anticipating this for quite some time. However, for many of the millions who will turn 65 this year, there may be some fear and unease.
For those of you on the brink of this magic age, let me start with some good news.
First, it is true that age is just a number in many respects. And turning 65 in the U.S. brings with it several perks – most of us become eligible for Medicare, Social Security, and a greater standard tax deduction.
For those bold enough to ask, senior discounts abound. Numerous retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, airlines, cruise ships, and internet and cellular plans offer senior discounts. Many require an AARP membership to get the savings, but they are there.
As senior citizens, we even get our own month. May is Older Americans Month.
Personally, I am taking advantage of my “coming of age” by getting some important boxes checked.
I signed up for Medicare Part A. Since I am covered under my husband’s employer’s medical insurance, I will wait to sign up for the other portions of Medicare later.
I have taken this time to get my legal documents in order – starting with updating the charities and individuals my husband and I will name in our estate plan. I have updated my medical, legal, and financial powers of attorney, my advance healthcare directives, and my end-of-life choices.
I have had a complete physical and am up to date on all my screenings, exams, and vaccinations.
I have been initiating conversations with my husband about my bucket list – the things I want to be sure I do before I am unable to do them.
I am in the process of plans to upgrade our home’s infrastructure (bathrooms, kitchen, new windows, etc.) so that we are not doing major repairs when times may be more physically or financially challenging.
And I have been listening more closely to my older friends, seeing what makes them happy, what they find important in life and how they deal with adversity. I believe that the universe puts in front of us lessons we need to learn, and I want to make sure I am listening.
Even with my work as a specialist in aging, sometimes the obvious only dawns on me when I begin to contemplate my age. For example, while I am waiting patiently for my heart to feel right about getting another dog, I just realized that if I get a new pup now, I will likely be over 80 when he/she passes, if I am fortunate enough to live that long.
Me, at 80, hmmm. What will I be like?
There is an interesting psychological phenomenon that occurs when we try to picture our older selves.
Try this. Take a moment to imagine your 90-year-old self. What do you look like? Who is in your life? How are you physically? What makes you happy?
Now think, is that person an older version of yourself or an entirely different person? Psychologically when we think of our future selves, it is as an entirely different person. We can’t grasp the metamorphosis from the person we are today to that 90-year-old.
Studies show that the more your brain treats your future self like a stranger, the less self-discipline you exhibit today, and the more you procrastinate.
So, while it is hard for me to picture myself as a 90-year-old, I have seen enough 90-year-olds to know the steps I should take to help to ensure the best possible future for myself. I am blessed to be in an industry that encourages me to learn best practices for aging well.
Now, how do I spread that word to the other 3.65 million of us out there?