Practicalities – taking stock
I expect for some people the mention of practical matters will sound completely logical and rational whilst others may probably want to run and bury their heads in the sand. I encourage you all to read on. First and foremost, I’m going to refer back to my earlier references to Vision and Mindset* i.e. in a nutshell your dreams and aspirations and how open you are to thinking about any adjustments you may need to help you get there. Some of these practical matters are so important that I urge you to give them some thought, regarding how they will impact you and your life, even if the actual impact will (hopefully) be some years off.
At some point, if not now, you’ll need to consider topics such as lifestyle changes (whilst you can still make a difference), accommodation and preferences around medication, amongst others. You should probably also give some thought to the process of dying – palliative care, funerals – cremation or burial, who to invite, order of service etc., especially if you have particular views on any of these. I’d guess that most people would want to make (or at least be involved in making) many of these decisions themselves, so maybe that will inspire you to give it some thought whilst you are still able. But what if you lose your faculties before you get the chance? You may need someone to make these decisions for you or on your behalf and that’s where the Power of Attorney comes in. The idea is to get this sorted way before you might need it.
Having at least given some thought to these decisions, hopefully this will prompt some actions, arrangements and conversations.
Practical actions could include taking greater control of your life e.g. your lifestyle, health, fitness or finances. It could also involve taking a look at the possessions that you’ve amassed to date. Some people are already pretty disciplined in this area, but I’d reckon that they’re in the minority. I’d guess that the majority of us could probably do with sorting, clearing, binning, selling, donating, gifting or even cataloguing our possessions. My uncle and aunt were antique collectors and had prepared a beautifully organised folder of catalogued possessions in advance of a forced move or their ultimate passing, complete with photos, the backstory and what needed to happen to each item following their death.
If you believe you may need to move at some point, why not crack on and determine the optimal property, location, timeframe etc. while you still have time on your side. Maybe it’s best to do this proactively and maybe enjoy some additional benefits that this could bring, rather than delay and have it ‘done to you’ or enforced at a later date.
Once you’ve made some decisions, you may also want, or need, to make some arrangements, to a greater or lesser extent. I imagine that some people will arrange everything with no stone left unturned, including power of attorney, funeral arrangements and detailed plan, wills, inheritance planning, palliative care, dying wishes, list of people to inform etc. Others will be much less prepared, either because it’s not their style, they are in denial about their mortality or they simply never get around to it.
At some point, you should probably have open conversations with those that matter most including family, friends, carers and medical professionals, so that there are no surprises as and when events may trigger. This should help you and them navigate through difficult times and it will ensure that your wishes are known and taken into account. Not all of these discussions will be easy, nor ones that everyone will want to engage in or hear, but probably worth instigating nevertheless.
Finally, I’ve merrily made assumptions that you’re all going to know all of the available options, and what you want to and need to do. However, this is likely to vary greatly by individual, depending on your profession or vocation, and whether you’ve had to help someone else through this such as a parent, grandparent or even a spouse. There is a wealth of information available via friends, families, age-specific groups, books, websites, coaches, counsellors and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (www.citizensadvice.org.uk/) on all of these topics and more. We’ll examine these resources more in future blogs to ensure you get access to the right info for you to move forward and address these practical matters.
N.B. many of these points may appear premature to readers at this point in time, but could be of use to help your parents, in-laws and other friends and family – to provide necessary assistance as well as to build some first-hand experience of these matters before time.
Hopefully I’ve got time on my side but as we can never tell what’s around the corner, I’m going to start thinking a little more about these things and maybe share my thoughts and preferences with those near and dear to me.
* As a complete aside, there’ll be more on these critical subjects over the coming months within the Mind blog series.
Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.