Being 50 is a joy. It’s not that I enjoy the extra weight or the added bags under eyes already carrying suitcases but what I do enjoy is that lack of self-consciousness. I’m slower to anger now than ever before. I have more patience. I find the ridiculous in the things that used to irritate me. I enjoy other people’s joy. At 50, you’re more likely than ever to be feeling the pinch of being a part of the sandwich generation. If you have kids, they might be at home; they might even be at home with kids of their own. Meanwhile if you are blessed like I am, you also have living parents. Careers, family and your own relationships can place a strain on this decade. I’ve still got a lot of time left but I’m more aware than ever that death doesn’t come with an escape clause. So, I thought I would look at what I should be developing in this decade.
- Gray divorces are a significant threat to your financial well-being. Relationships require work and relationships that have been able to cruise along smoothly sometimes require more work than the ones just starting out. For most people, it’s far more expensive to invest in a new relationship than it is to take the time to build on the current one so protect the investment you’ve already made.
- Get out and move. Mobility issues will sideline your fun quickly and now’s the time to make sure you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and active. The cheapest exercise to do is to walk. Take a grandchild for a walk. Walk to the bookstore (you’re old enough to realize they aren’t all called Amazon and aren’t all online). Walk around the neighborhood park. Whatever you do…walk.
- Eat better. Your body lets you fake it for a long time. You can drink your Mountain Dew and eat a chocolate bar as a pick-me-up when you’re in your 20s, maybe 30s and if you are lucky even your 40s but by 50 your muscle mass turns to jelly. You don’t have to take it lying down but you will have to work harder at keeping or getting the weight off. If you’re not already behind the eight ball, make sure you don’t get there. Otherwise, it’s only too late to work on improving your health when you’re dead.
- Take a class, learn something new, embrace technology. A lot of older people act as if they should get an award for not spending time on Facebook. I’m not saying you need to get glued to it but Facebook and other social media sites are the pen and paper of this time and place. Ignore it at your peril. You don’t want to be irrelevant. More importantly it’s a surefire way to keep up with your kids, your grandkids and your high school class. Here’s a long list of things to learn if you don’t know where to start. Learn new hobbies, make new friends, challenge yourself.
- Learn about Social Security. Take Social Security seriously. It represents most people’s biggest retirement account. More women than men will end up relying upon Social Security as a significant part (for many 90 percent or more) of their income in retirement. If you’re lucky enough to have a giant bank account then you probably don’t need to worry about this but for every other woman out there knowing when to apply for Social Security benefits will be the number one way you’ll avoid living in poverty in the last quarter of your life.
- Women are different from men. I know huh. Seems obvious but did you know that a woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer? Being female and hitting menopause places you at greater risk for breaking a bone. How do you avoid having osteoporosis? If you smoke…stop. That one’s a no-brainer. Get enough calcium and vitamin D and eat a well-balanced diet especially fruits and vegetables, limit your alcohol intake and exercise. Of course broken bones aren’t the only thing to worry about.
If you’re stuck and don’t know which direction to go, consider hiring a LifePlanner. You can attend a free seminar by going here.
Stay tuned for what men aged 50 should know.