How Many Good Years Do You Have Left?

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Oof, it’s been a bad month for the RB40 household. Our overall health seems to have simultaneously taken a major hit this month. I have back pain. Mrs. RB40 just had minor surgery. My mom was hospitalized due to a lung infection. My dad’s knee is swollen and he can’t move around as well as normal.  Mrs. RB40’s dad was also hospitalized due to a fall.

Kids, this is what happens when you get old. Fortunately, our son is healthy, so that’s one silver lining. We are right in the middle of the sandwich generation situation here. Our parents are in their 70s. Their health is deteriorating. At the same time, our son is young and energetic and he needs attention. Actually, I’m very glad our son is 11 years old now. He needs a lot less supervision than when he was younger. Life would be a lot more difficult if our son needed more help.

This week, I’m in California to help my father-in-law transition back home from the hospital. Mrs. RB40 will come down next week as soon as she wraps up a major work project. Then next month, I’ll go to see my parents in Thailand. Thank goodness for FIRE. Time is the best benefit of early retirement. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I was still working as an engineer.

All these ailments are getting me down. I’m not young anymore. How many good years do I have left? Mrs. RB40 also has the same question. This might be the trigger she needs to retire early. Anyway, I’m just rambling about health today. You know what? This must be what retirees do in their spare time!

My mom

We’ll start with my mom. She has Lewy body dementia. It’s a mix of Parkinson’s disease, memory problems, and behavioral issues. It’s awful.

Earlier this year, I spent 3 months in Thailand to help my parent out. Unfortunately, my mom deteriorated so quickly this year. She was stable for a while, but this year has been like falling off a cliff.

  • January – She could walk, climb stairs, and eat some solid food. I helped her exercise, led her on walks, and fed her. It wasn’t fun, but I was glad I could be there for her.
  • July – We stopped by for a quick visit and she was much worse. She could only walk for a few steps and her food had to be blended.
  • October – She can’t walk at all and eating has been very difficult. She chokes and coughs during and after every meal. This led to a lung infection and she just got hospitalized. Now, she has to get her nutrition through tube feeding.

She’ll probably stay in the long-term care ward at the hospital from now on. My dad can’t take care of her anymore. My mom is just 74.

This left me thinking about how much time I have left. I’ll be 50 next year so I’m not young anymore. I would be lucky to have 20 good years left. I want to travel more, see new places, and enjoy life while I’m healthy. Once I hit 70, traveling probably will be a lot harder. I guess a lot of 70+ seniors still travel, but I don’t know anyone who does. Anyway, travel is a lot more fun when you’re young and healthy.

Mrs. RB40

Recently, Mrs. RB40 had a minor surgery and it left her a bit down. She complained to me that she might only have 20 good years left. That’s uncanny. I didn’t share this same thought with her. Maybe everyone has this same thought as they approach their 50th birthday.

Mrs. RB40 took a sabbatical this year to see if she would enjoy having more free time. We visited families and traveled to Thailand and the Maldives. It was an awesome summer. Well, we were exhausted by the end and couldn’t wait to get home. But it was still a great experience. After the sabbatical, she decided to go back to work. The economy is iffy and she wants to save a bit more. She still enjoys her job so she is putting off early retirement.

However, every year at work is another year less to enjoy life to the fullest. The 20 good years will fly by before she knows it. I think I will really need to push her to retire early. I don’t want her to retire at 65 and only have 5 good years left. What’s the point of being wealthy then?

Are there healthy seniors?

In full disclosure, I don’t know many people over 70 years old. Just my parents, my older relatives, and Mrs. RB40’s parents. Everyone has some kind of health issue. Even if they don’t have serious ailments, they don’t want to travel much if at all.

Mrs. RB40’s mom is the healthiest 70+ senior I know, but she has other issues. She doesn’t want to leave her house for more than a few days. She doesn’t know what to do with her cats and she’s afraid people might rob her. These are valid concerns, but this means she never leaves town, even to come visit us. It’s a mental block.

One of my aunts has a similar problem. She likes it at home so why travel? It’s a big inconvenience to pack, arrange transportation, figure out what to see and do, endure uncomfortable flights and other travelers, and deal with health issues. It’s way easier to stay home. Oh, she is very wealthy so money is not an obstacle. Her kids offer to take her on a trip many times, but she always refuses.

Lastly, there is my dad. He loves to travel. He visited Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. He even drove all over the United States with my mom for 4 months. But now he can’t get away because he is taking care of my mom. He also has some health issues. Even if he can go, traveling will be more difficult. This week, he can barely walk because his knee is swollen from gout. He also has high blood pressure, hearing loss, night blindness, and various other ailments. I don’t know if I can trust him to travel by himself. Maybe I can take a trip with him at some point.

From my small sample size of a dozen 70+ seniors I know, none of them travel. That’s a little depressing. I guess I should plan on traveling in my 50s and 60s. After that, I’ll stay home at our beach house.

How many good years do you have left?

Anyway, I’m just grumbling. I’m down because of all the health issues my friends and family are dealing with. My back pain isn’t getting much better. My doctor said to keep doing physical therapy, so I’m hoping for improvement soon. Oh, I’m down in California to help Mrs. RB40’s dad transition back home. He needs a walker to get around now. He won’t travel anymore either. BTW, he doesn’t cook at all. His kitchen isn’t well equipped and I can’t cook the food I like. I’ll share what I made next time.

We love traveling and would really miss it if we can’t do it anymore. The clock is ticking. Do you know any 70+ seniors that still travel? It just seems like traveling won’t be that much fun when you have health problems. I guess a cruise might be okay. How many good years do you think you have left?

Image credit: Matt Bennett

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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