Seniors: Start planning for new year now

What will 2020 look like for you? That answer is likely to be different for everyone, but there are a few things most older adults will have in common. 

For example, if Social Security is your primary source of income, you may want to think about tightening your belt a little. In 2020, seniors will be getting a 1.6% increase in benefits, which pales in comparison to the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment they received going into 2019.

Additionally, the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is increasing from $135.50 in 2019 to $144.60 in 2020.

Belt tightening can include getting a part-time job, taking in a roommate and reducing expenses.

One of the major areas of expense for older adults are healthcare costs. By this time of year, seniors have selected their Medicare plans and have realized their options for reducing costs are limited.

At the very least, you can inform your doctors of your financial concerns and ask them to recommend generic drugs and the lowest cost treatments possible.

Of course, the best way to reduce healthcare costs is to stay healthy by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, so take advantage of the new year and channel a new, better-cared-for “you.”

If we have learned anything from the past few years, it’s that planning for emergencies should be a top priority for each of us: Do you have an evacuation plan? Do you know what you’ll be taking with you? What will you do if you lose power in your home for more than a few hours? Who will help you if help is needed?

Check this website for a good list to get planning started: cdc.gov/features/older-adult-emergency.

Have you thought about what will bring you joy, purpose and happiness in the coming year? Is it taking a trip, spending time with grandchildren, enjoyFiing a hobby, evening walks, visiting with friends or feeling needed?

Happiness is a choice you make. Being purposeful in choosing to spend your time on things that bring you joy takes some planning. Start now by identifying what brings you joy so you can achieve your happiness goal in 2020.

Are you caring for a loved one? Are there ways in the coming year you can be kind to yourself? Can you get some respite from your caregiving duties? Can you find commonality, community and comfort by joining a support group?

Consider calling Senior Concerns at (805) 497-0189 so they can help you find ways to ease your burden and plan for your happiness in the coming year.

No matter how purposeful we are in planning for a good 2020, chances are that as we go about our daily lives, something will get us down.

How have you dealt with disappointments and loss in the past? How have you recharged your battery? Identifying the methods you have employed to successfully move past tough situations can be helpful as you enter the new year. What worked once has a good chance of working again.

These methods might include acknowledging your feelings, talking about your situation or asking for help from a friend or professional.

Lastly, as we age our networks generally get smaller. When we retire work friends disappear, loved ones move, others pass away. It is a proven fact that expanding your network as you get older can bring great rewards.

How can you expand your network? Wander around your neighborhood, go to events, introduce yourself to others when you are out and about, and consider volunteering.

Taking the time to make a thoughtful plan for your year can set you up for success for a happy and fruitful 2020.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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