Three Important Questions

This summer has been a challenging one, with quite a few family members, friends, and clients of ours all struggling with care challenges for aging parents, spouses, or friends.  We’ve watched the struggle of figuring out how to let someone age in place with dignity, and it is a huge burden for family or friends to carry.  So, as you think about retirement and what the shape of that looks like for you and your family, we encourage you to think about these three things:

These three ordinary items have big questions attached…the answers to which will set the stage for a successful retirement.  According to the MIT Age Lab, these three questions have a major impact on the quality of life in retirement:

  1. How will you change your lightbulbs?
  2. How will you get ice cream?
  3. Who will you have lunch with?


How will you change your lightbulbs?

This seems like an easy question, but when thinking into retirement, it will be more difficult to grab a heavy ladder, navigate a staircase, climb up and change a lightbulb.  So, having a plan to stay at home is essential.  While the need may be as little as lawn service or housekeeping, it may be wise to think through home modifications like non-slip flooring, wider doors, or easy to reach storage.  Here are a few other items to be considered:


How will you get ice cream?

This question has to do with access to activities.  For most folks, it is not a big deal to jump in the car and drive off to get ice cream on a whim.  But if driving is no longer an option, then ensuring access to services and experiences is critical.  In some locations, public transportation may be an option.  In others, technology may enable easier connection via services like Lyft or Uber.  Figuring out these resources before settling into retirement is wise.


Who will you have lunch with?

This question is all about social connection—as humans, we are wired to connect with others and isolation can affect one’s quality of life and have severe impact on one’s health.  In one study of 7,000 participants, those that had the least social connections were 2-3 times more likely to die earlier than those with the most social ties.  Maintaining connection with others should be a feature of a great retirement plan.


These questions were developed in the MIT Age Lab to help shift retirement planning from only focusing on the financial aspect of retirement.  As Hartford Funds says…investing for both Quantity AND Quality:

To help folks think through these questions, Hartford has a worksheet to help you organize your thoughts around these three questions.  We recommend that you take a look and think through your answers—we’d love to help you build a quality retirement plan to support your vision of retired life.

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