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 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Joshua Tree National Park Closes Two Campgrounds Due to ‘Aggressive’ Honey Bees

Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Just a few months after closing the entire park due to the COVID-19 crisis, Joshua Tree National Park is shutting down two of its campgrounds. This time, aggressive bee activity is the culprit, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Aggressive honey bees (not to be confused with the murder hornets that made headlines in May) have invaded the Jumbo Rocks and Cottonwood campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park. The insects were spotted swarming vehicles and campsites, putting visitors in harm's way.

Joshua Tree superintendent David Smith told the Los Angeles Times that the bees are "standard honey bees" and a natural part of the desert ecosystem. While seeing a few at a time is normal, they can be dangerous in large numbers—especially when they're thirsty. Parched honey bees will look for water anywhere they can find it, including trash bags, picnic tables, and vehicle air conditioning condensers. By clearing the affected areas of campers for a while, park officials hope the honey bees will find moisture from a safer, natural water source.

According to Joshua Tree's National Park Service page, the Jumbo Rocks campground will remain closed through July 23. The Cottonwood area is also temporarily closed, but the staff is working to get it open as quickly as possible, with no reopening date set yet. The closures mean camping at Joshua Tree will be even more difficult for visitors this summer. Through September 4, all campsites there are first come, first served.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]