Expert Interview with Deborah McLean About Retirement Planning in Maine

Retirement planning in Maine

Deborah McLean of Maine Senior Guide understands that retirement planning can be difficult. With the Maine Senior Guide, retirees have the option of examining multiple options pertaining to retirement benefits, healthcare, senior communities, and a host of other issues relating to one’s retirement years.

In this interview, McLean discusses the benefits of the Maine Senior Guide and how retirees can maximize their experience.

Talk about the Maine Senior Guide and how it benefits retirees. 

Maine Senior Guide is an online resource that retirees and their adult children can access for free any place they can get online. You don’t have to enter your blood type, send us your first born child or wait for someone to get back to you. Contact information about many different senior-related services in Maine is all there for review. A number of resources, especially in senior communities, home care, health care and legal services, have developed information on their profiles that tell a lot more about their offerings.

People can read about all sorts of services in one place. Senior-related businesses have an outlet for their information. Adult children, especially those outside the state, can get information any time. And seniors can find information on their own.

Maine Senior Guide is easy to search because it sorts by geographic area. It’s free. And it helps you find many different resources all on one site.

When it comes to retirement, what are some key factors individuals may not be aware of?

Many people have avoided getting a good grasp of their finances and understanding their expenses in retirement. They don’t explore their options under Medicare. They don’t understand what Medicare will pay for and what MaineCare is for. They don’t understand their retirement portfolios. It’s not rocket science, and there are lots of people around to help.

Ignorence isn’t bliss. Bliss actually comes from planning and preparation. You should work at being organized so that your family has a good idea of what your assets are and where they are, including your health care directives.

And you should work at yourself. Now’s the time to figure out how to get as personally healthy as you can and make that happen. No one is holding a gun to your head and making you eat junk food. Or sit on the sofa and watch TV all day. Or smoke. You’re not working anymore, so there is just no excuse for not working on yourself!

Because there are so many organizations that need help, there’s also no excuse for any retiree not to be active in helping their community. Being active is a really important step in staying healthy. And staying healthy is a really important step in staying financially secure. Activity includes staying mentally alert, too. Being out and about and helping others keeps depression away. Go to the free movies at the library. Brush up on your favorite hobby and join a club. Be a mentor.

Also, I think people should establish some checkpoints for themselves, perhaps with the help of family. For example, when I can’t see at night, or when I’ve had 3 little fender-benders, I will stop driving. When I can’t attend church, do my own grocery shopping, or cook simple meals, I will explore assisted living. Those are pretty concrete activities, and a simple way to decide for yourself when you might need help.

What challenges are unique to retirees in Maine? What advantages do these same people have?

The biggest challenge to older retirees in Maine is probably transportation. Our public transportation system is spotty at best, so if you need to stop driving, it’s hard to get around. On the other hand, most towns have volunteers who will drive seniors to appointments or shopping. In fact, these sort of volunteer opportunities are a great way to pay it forward! Creating a strong network of people dedicated to keeping the entire community active is a long-term project and goal for many community organizations.

What role does estate planning have in retirement?

Everyone needs an estate plan, even folks without a big estate. Or any estate. Estate planning includes everything from a will that legally distributes your estate, to a living will and health care directives that tell people how you want to be treated if you can’t talk for yourself. The key word is planning, not estate. You need to plan for your aging and retirement.

No one gets out of this world alive, as my dad used to say. But you can still be in charge if you’ve made a good plan and shared it. For people with means, estate planning can help them think through their legacy. They’ve worked hard for what they have. How should it benefit their loved ones, and the institutions or causes they want to support?

What questions do you find yourself answering the most regarding retirement? Are these questions from those already in retirement or entering into that stage of life?

I answer a lot of questions about care for parents from their adult children. The parents are usually in their 80s or so, so the kids are approaching retirement themselves. I get questions about MaineCare, long term care insurance, how to find resources in the community. How to get the seniors to accept help. How to get seniors to move into care communities. And the conversation usually includes some sort of statement from the children about how they hope they will be less stubborn when their time comes and better prepared to make these decisions in advance of a crisis.

Honestly, it often comes down to money. People would consider an assisted living community if they could afford one. They would consider having people come in to help if they could afford it. They value their independence, and at some point that includes not having to ask their friends and kids for help all the time. They’d pay for that help if they could afford to.

If you could tell individuals just three things about a positive retirement experience, what would those things be?

  • Do everything in your power to get and stay physically and mentally healthy.
  • Volunteer regularly.
  • Stay in loving touch with your friends, family and community network.

In what ways do reverse mortgages benefit retirees?

Reverse mortgages are a tool that allow people to use the equity in their homes to support their independence. For some people, reverse mortgages give them options. For others, reverse mortgages are a last-resort tool to tap the value of their homes when they have no other assets. Obviously, reverse mortgages can have a huge impact on their estate and are really best used by folks who have a lot of excellent advice from experts in finance, banking and estate management.

How can one be sure to retire the way he or she desires to?

You got me! So much depends on your health so that you can enjoy your retirement. I think planning, doing all you can to remain healthy, and having a good network of people you can call on for advice and counsel will all help in making a better retirement. Put all the pieces into play that you can control.

Think about what you’d like to have happen, then work on how to make it happen. Financial security will lessen the stress. And recognize that what makes you feel financially secure probably doesn’t work for Donald Trump. Figure out how to enjoy the life you can afford.

Please share anything additional you would like to say about Maine Senior Guide.

Maine Senior Guide has lots of information about these sorts of questions. How to create a living will, stay healthy, assist neighbors with dementia, get exercise. It’s a resource to use, and it introduces experts in many areas who are ready to assist. People have to decide for themselves that they want to be in charge, as much as they can, of their own lives; and then do what it takes to maintain that independence without leaning too much on family and friends. The expert resources listed on Maine Senior Guide can help.

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