Like an Unexpected Storm, Retirement Can Challenge Us in Unexpected Ways

Last week our local weather service projected that our area would experience from one to five inches of snow. We ended up with about a foot of wet snow throughout our county.

Trees and power lines were down throughout our area. We lost part of our tall, Moon Glow Juniper hedge. I tried to save some of them by knocking off some of the extra snow with a heavy, industrial broom. Unwisely, I stood on a plastic chair while it was snowing to reach some of the juniper branches. It only took an instant to fall and bang up my ribs.

We didn’t have electricity, heat, or an Internet connection for a few days. We did have a gas fireplace, a battery-operated lantern, some candles, and a BBQ for cooking. We know all of our neighbors and helped where we could. They also offered to help us with whatever we needed. When something unexpected happens, it’s sure comforting to belong to a strong community.

Just like an unexpected storm, preparation for retirement is very important.

Most of us know that financial preparation is essential, but there are other aspects we need to consider as well. Here are some that I thought about as our power was out.

Key information and skills are important. I knew where certain equipment was located but my husband didn’t. My husband knew how to do some necessary things that I’d never bothered to learn. At some point, one of us will likely go before the other does. We are going to discuss and put together a list of essential information for each other.

Community is important – especially when unexpected challenges occur. Even if we remain active and healthy, we will become a bit more vulnerable as we age. Checking in on each other is important. I was glad my 98-year-old neighbor was able to move into her new apartment in an assisted living community a couple of days before the storm hit. All of us knew she was safe.

It is important to know and accept our limitations. In my mind, I still think I’m fifty. When I was fifty, I thought of myself as about thirty. As a woman in her sixties, having any kind of fall could make me more vulnerable to breaks. A broken rib could have led to a punctured lung.  Of course, it is never wise to stand on a plastic chair in the snow – no matter what age. However, there is a time when we do need to recognize that we can call on the wisdom of experience that comes with age rather than simply acting without thinking things through.

Having the right mindset can be freeing. Once we accepted the fact that we were stuck without power and were basically snowbound, we were able to enjoy time together and prided ourselves on ways we adjusted and innovated.

We’ll all face challenges in the years ahead. Making sure we are prepared, are connected with our community, know our limitations, and have the right might set can be an opportunity for growth and a deeper appreciation for all that we do have.


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