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Make the most of your retirement years
Senior Moments
Rich DeLong is executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

I can’t wait until retirement. No, really! I’m looking forward to sleeping in late, not having an agenda for the day, doing whatever I want, making my own decisions and not having anyone telling me different, and of course traveling. I plan to travel a lot.

Does this sound like your retirement years? How many of us have one idea of retirement in our heads, and another one of reality staring us in the face, or maybe hiding around the corner?

I guess you would have to include me in that group.

See, the truth is many of us have an idea of what retirement will be like, but it’s more like a dream that most of us will never experience in real life.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have dreams and desires, something to aspire to. But unless you do some planning, chances are your retirement will never come to fruition. Even then the path you travel in retirement could all-of-a-sudden take a turn you weren’t expecting — a giant curve if you will. That’s called life!

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn about this thing called life. I experienced my father dying at the young age of 67. He never even got a chance to see what retirement would be like. I think he said at one point that he planned to live to be 129 years old.

One could say my dad was an honor student at the school of hard knocks. I watched him work harder and smarter than most people I know. He worked his way up the ladder climbing one rung at a time. He was a company man if there was ever one to be.

And sometimes he would slip down a rung or two; but he kept climbing. I don’t think he ever made it to the top of the ladder in his eyes; but he always made us feel as if we were on top of the world. My father was someone you were always glad to see.

I’ve also seen couples who plan for a wonderful retirement, only to hit that curve and find a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or cancer around the bend. Talk about a game-changer. How do you plan for something like that?

You don’t.

Oscar Wilde said it best, "To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect." Wilde was onto something.

So where do we go from here? Is planning all for naught? I don’t think so; but it should be prudent with the idea that things may change.

One thing I know that has changed with me personally is my ability to do the activities I once did with the same vigor and "at all cost" mentality. I can’t do that anymore, not if I want a chance at retirement.

I’m still adventurous; but with a cautious approach.

Some say if you have your health you have everything. I know if you lose it the other things don’t really matter as much. So that may be a good starting point.

Want to know more? Join me at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, for a one-hour workshop, Making the Most out of Your Retirement. We’ll meet at Station Exchange and my friend, and physical therapist Martin Healy, will talk about the importance of what to do now so you can enjoy life later.

Expect the unexpected my friends!

Contact DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at:

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