Golden years

Golden years (Trina Dalziel, Getty Illustration)

wdaley@tribune.com

Starting your personal conversation

Here are some action steps Nancy Orel of Bowling Green State University said you can take to make sure your golden years, no matter how distant they may be now, are more comfortable:

Assess your personal situation. Talk about it openly with someone you trust. No partner or kids? How about meeting with a close friend, your doctor, a relative? There are also online estate planning programs that can help you organize information and help you with your plan.

Big question to consider for anyone, at any age: "Whom would you call in an emergency?" Orel suggests you have a list of people to contact in a crisis. Include family members, friends, neighbors, doctors, pharmacists and lawyers.

Get a good lawyer.

Build a strong support system. "Reach out, don't seclude yourself,'' Orel said.

Exercise body and mind. Volunteering, Orel said, is a great way to do both.

Can you age in place? If your golden years are imminent, Orel recommends looking around your home to see what renovations (ramps, downstairs bedrooms, easy to use/read kitchen appliances) are necessary so you can stay put. Or, if you can't, look for housing options that will meet your future needs.

Stay positive; look forward to something.

As you age, treat yourself kindly, Orel said. "Have dreams and goals and objectives for the future. … Many people fall prey to 'I'm old, I'm old, I'm old.' No. If people assumed they were going to live the maximum life span of 122 years, they'd look differently at their 70s."

— B.D.