Planning for the fourth quarter of life

Senior couple dancing joyfully on the beach

While on her recent music tour, musician Amy Grant shared an epiphany she had while recovering from a severe cycling accident and concussion. Life is made up of four quarters.

In the first quarter (up to age 20), we follow instructions from our parents and teachers. The second quarter (age 21–40), we are journeying to figure out our purpose in life. The third quarter (age 41–60), we shift our focus to others and seek to deepen our connections. The final quarter (age 61–80+) we look back at the last three quarters and make sense of our mistakes and challenges.

In the fourth quarter, many people realize they should have made some important decisions to help prepare them for their last season of life. Preparing for late-in-life decisions involves a combination of planning, communication, and mindfulness.

As we age, there are a variety of decisions we must make regarding our healthcare, housing, transportation, finances, and support network. These decisions can be daunting, but with careful planning and consideration, you will have the support and resources you need to live your best life in the golden years. In this article, we will explore some tips and strategies for addressing these late-in-life decisions.

Start Early: It’s never too early to start thinking about your future and the decisions you may need to make as you age. Consider discussing your financial, legal, and healthcare needs with family members, friends, and a professional advisor.

Make a Plan: Create a plan that outlines your wishes for medical care, estate planning, and financial management. Consider creating a living will, power of attorney, and other legal documents to ensure your wishes are respected.

When it comes to healthcare needs, it is important to research different healthcare options available including Medicare, Medicaid, and other private insurance plans. Make sure you understand what services each plan covers and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.

Create an advance care directive, which is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical treatment in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

In the area of financial management, create a budget to track your income and expenses and ensure you are living within your means. Consider hiring a financial planner to help you create a retirement plan, manage your investments, and make decisions about long-term care. Set up automatic payments to simplify financing and eliminate stress.

With time, you may need to make changes to your housing and transportation options to maintain independence and quality of life. If you are living in a large home that is becoming too difficult to manage, consider downsizing to a smaller home or apartment that is more manageable.

Explore senior living communities that can provide a range of housing options, from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing care. As driving becomes more difficult or unsafe, plan for alternative transportation options, such as public transportation, ride-sharing services, or volunteer driver programs.

Stay Healthy: Maintaining good health is key to being able to make important decisions later in life. Make sure you stay active, eat a healthy diet, and stay up to date on medical check-ups.

Be Socially Active: Keeping up with social connections is also important. Engage in activities you enjoy, join clubs or groups, and stay connected with family and friends. Consider joining local clubs or a Royal Neighbors Community Chapter to meet new people.

Stay Informed: Be informed about your options for care and support services as you age. Research resources and services available in your area, such as home care, assisted living, and hospice care. Consider working with a geriatric care manager who can help coordinate your healthcare and other services, or a counselor or therapist to address emotional and mental health concerns.

Planning for long-term care can help ensure you have the resources and support you need as you age. Consider purchasing long-term care insurance or setting up a trust to pay for care.

Communicate: Talk to your loved ones about your wishes and plans. Keep them informed about any changes and involve them in decision-making as much as possible.

Be Mindful: Stay present in the moment and reflect on your values and priorities. Consider meditating or practicing mindfulness to help reduce stress and improve clarity.

In conclusion, addressing important late-in-life decisions sooner than later can be extremely beneficial as you enter what Amy Grant called “the fourth quarter.” Taking proactive steps to plan your finances, health care, housing, transportation, and building a supportive network will help you age with dignity and grace.


TRN00039 Rev. 5-2023

This article is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any information provided as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice. No reader should make any investment decision without first consulting her or his own financial advisor and conducting her or his own research and due diligence.

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