5 Ways to Prepare for Old Age When You're Young

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iStock

It can feel morbid to think about your final days when you're young and healthy, but putting off those difficult conversations with your loved ones can make your death that much more difficult for them. In other words, it’s not fun to prepare for the inevitable, but it’s important—and you don’t need to be over 60 to start planning.

“No one thinks of themselves as old until they are sick or disabled,” Alix Foisy, a Retirement Transitions Specialist, tells mental_floss. “And this can really happen at any time.”

You don’t need a huge net worth or a large amount of assets to start thinking about planning for old age, either. Here are some end-of-life planning tasks to tackle—for yourself and your parents—sooner rather than later.

1. WRITE YOUR WILL.

If you do have assets, like a retirement savings account or other investments, you want to make sure to name your beneficiaries—the people who will inherit your assets—on those accounts. You can likely do this online or by calling your investment firm. That’s just the first part of the process, though. You also need a last will and testament.

This document establishes what happens to your property, pets, and children after you die. It also designates an executor, an individual who will carry out your last wishes. After your death, a probate court gives the executor power to handle your estate (your assets, debts, and property).

Unless you own a lot of property or other assets, you probably just need a simple will, which you can write yourself. Sites like LegalZoom and RocketLawyer provide templates that make it easy to create your own will, but if you have specific wishes or a lot of assets—or just want help navigating tricky state tax laws—you’ll want to enlist the help of a lawyer. Either way, to make your will legally binding, you typically need two witnesses to sign the document. Experts also recommend getting it notarized. Legal site Nolo explains:

If you sign your will in a lawyer’s office, the lawyer will provide a notary public. If you’re arranging this party on your own, you can probably find a notary public at a bank, real estate office, or package-mailing service. It’s worth it to go to the extra trouble of getting a notarized self-proving affidavit, because it will simplify the process of getting your will admitted to probate after your death.

2. ASSIGN A POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR YOUR FINANCES.

Not only do you need an executor for your will, you also need to assign a power of attorney: the person who will manage your finances (and healthcare, but we'll get to that) when you’re unable to do so. This might be the same person you choose as executor of your will or someone else—but it should definitely be someone you trust.

There are different types of power of attorney, but most experts recommend a “durable” power of attorney, which allows this person to make decisions in your stead in the event that you become mentally unfit to advocate for yourself.

RocketLawyer can help you create your own power of attorney, but again, if you can afford it, a lawyer will do a more thorough job (the American Association of Individual Investors offers a few recommendations for finding a reputable attorney [PDF]).

3. WRITE A LIVING WILL.

A will designates what happens when you die, but a living will establishes your wishes for dealing with healthcare-related issues while you’re still alive.

“Most living wills provide specific directives about treatments that should or should not be undertaken if a patient is unable to express a preference for any reason,” says Anthony D. Criscuolo, CFP, Client Services Manager for Palisades Hudson Financial Group. “A highly specific living will can prevent disagreement over interpretation by your loved ones, or save them the burden of trying to determine what your preference would be, but also leaves less room for flexibility in unforeseen circumstances.”

Again, there are websites that provide templates for a living will, but Criscuolo says it’s best to work with a lawyer to create one. “Working with an attorney will be more costly, but it is generally well worth it ... you should have a competent attorney draft the documents to ensure they meet state law, express your intentions clearly, and are consistent with your other estate planning documents.”

“Topics you may wish to address in a living will include pain management options, the use of prolonged life support, your preferences regarding resuscitation, and your desires regarding organ donation, among others,” Criscuolo says. “While a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) does not require a living will, it is a good idea to mention it there if you have one. If you have been diagnosed with or are at risk for certain medical conditions, you may wish to address them directly. In outlining a living will, it can be beneficial to discuss your options with your primary care physician, who can answer questions and suggest scenarios you might not think of on your own.”

You should discuss the contents of both your will and living will with your family and update both documents regularly. “These updates may reflect changes in opinion, circumstances, or even available medical treatment. You should also be sure to update your living will if you move, as legal requirements can vary between states,” Criscuolo says.

4. ASSIGN A MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY.

When you write your living will, you’ll also assign a medical power of attorney. This is the person who will make decisions if you’re not able to, Foisy explains.

Your medical power of attorney also monitors your mental and physical health, and is the person who will decide when it’s time for you to transition living arrangements and move into an eldercare home. Your medical power of attorney might be your child, a spouse, or your partner, but should be someone who feels comfortable speaking with doctors and medical professionals and will be able to abide by your wishes when the emotional stakes are at their highest.

5. STAY ACTIVE AND ENGAGED.

“The best way to ease the burden of caregiving for an older adult is to be physically active,” Foisy explains. “Healthcare is the highest cost associated with growing older.”

She adds that you don’t want to depend on your adult children financially either. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost of an assisted living facility is $3293 per month and a nursing home costs $6235 per month. Medicare and Medicaid may cover some of these costs, if you qualify, but it’s important to start saving for your retirement now to prepare for this expense later.

It’s also important to stay active as you age and establish a strong support system in your community, Foisy says. “It may be better to become close to the people in their community. Get to know different service providers for older adults. Start making tough choices before you are forced to and don't know anything about the organizations that you will rely on for care.”

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Why Do Some Vaccines Hurt More Than Others?

Whether you experience pain with a vaccine shot may depend on what type you're getting.
Whether you experience pain with a vaccine shot may depend on what type you're getting.
Gustavo Fring, Pexels // Public Domain

Whether you’re planning a trip abroad, have poked yourself with a dirty thorn, or want to prepare for flu season, sitting down for a vaccine shot is not usually a big deal. Barring any fear or apprehension about needles, it’s one quick alcohol swab, a jab into your deltoid, and a bandage.

Some people, however, report that some vaccine shots feel more like a harpoon, with pain upon injection and residual soreness. Does the level of discomfort have anything to do with the vaccine being administered, the patient, or the health care provider?

According to Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injection pain is a normal consequence of a shot designed to provoke an immune system response. Dr. Messonnier told The Wall Street Journal that inflammation around the injection site is an indication the vaccine is working.

When a vaccine is injected, antigens are introduced into the body. These proteins allow white blood cells to battle against viruses. When they’re jabbed into your arm, your body mounts a defense at the injection site, leading to inflammation.

Some vaccines tend to hurt a little more than others, like ones targeting hepatitis A and B and DTaP (for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis). It’s not totally clear why, but it’s possible that additives designed to strengthen the immune system, like aluminum salts or monophosphoryl lipid A, are the culprit. “These are safe ingredients added to the vaccine specifically to create a stronger immune response,” Messonnier told the paper, adding that some people might be more sensitive to them than others.

These additives aren’t the only reason vaccines can sting. The pH level of the solution (which can be acidic), the volume, and the temperature can also affect whether there’s discomfort.

If you or your child are needle-averse, you can try distraction techniques like music, request a numbing cream, or take an over-the-counter pain reliever to combat any post-injection soreness.

Incidentally, the shot probably won’t hurt any more or less if it’s delivered into your buttocks, as was the practice at one time. While some vaccines work well in fatty tissue, like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella, which gets directed to the fat near your triceps), many do not. And because flu vaccines are often administered in public places like pharmacies, it’s probably best that they stick to your upper extremities.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]