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Preparing to Meet Your Future Self Constance Moore, MA, CSA, CDP, CMC
September 24, 2019

Have you ever heard a young person say, “When I grow old, I want to go to a nursing home!” For that matter, have you ever heard anyone of any age making that statement? Presuming that maintaining your independence in your later years is a worthwhile objective, then maybe it’s time to meet your future self.
 
In the movie “Back to the Future,” Michael J. Fox gets a chance to go back in time to set his future family’s life on a better
course. While we as individuals don’t have the benefit of a movie-magic DeLorean time machine, we can at least begin contemplating what a good outcome might look like.
 
How do you envision that? Or, have you even thought about it? If not, consider this your starting point! Oftentimes, our only point of reference to aging is those around us: Either our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends.

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Some have aged well, some have aged fairly, and yet others have aged poorly.

What was the difference? And how did each of those people get to where they are? Why does Aunt Nellie look so good and why is she still vacationing abroad in her eighties? Why is Uncle Ned the chairman of the board at the local hospital? Once you determine who you want to emulate, ask them for their “secret” to a long and healthy life.” Chances are, they will be more than willing to share this information with you.

People often mistakenly believe that when you grow old, you grow ill. Sometimes, that is the case, but there are many
preemptive strikes you can take now to defy illness – to hold it at bay.

In a 2005 National Geographic cover story on human longevity called “The Secrets of a Long Life,” author Dan Buettner identified Blue Zone regions of the world where “People forget to die!” It is not uncommon for people in certain “Blue Zone” areas to live to be 100; and not only that, their life is free of western illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Cancer, and Arthritis. But what are they doing that we are not? Common themes in the Blue Zones include: A “plant slant” diet, moving naturally, having a sense of purpose, stressing less, wine in moderation and regularly, a sense of belonging, putting families first and a strong social circle.

The message in this commentary is not simply about making commonly understood improvements that you already know
about in lifestyle habits. Rather, we are simply asking you to consciously introduce yourself to the future you now. What is it that you are willing to do now, at this point in your life, in order to prepare? What does quality of life mean to you and what are you willing to do to provide yourself with the best?

To help achieve these goals, we ask clients to formally define the “who” in who you want to become, and we help them
develop a written road map called a “Life Plan of Self Care.” By taking the time to write out one’s personal health objectives, it helps make the goals more actionable as life’s journey progresses. We then help the client put their plan into action, making recommendations (identifying professional resources) and/or adjusting goals as needed. So in effect, we encourage our clients to apply a similar structured plan to their health and wellness goals just as they would their financial goals.

STEP 1: Start with a vision or goal for each decade as you age. The more specific your goal the better, as this will help you
keep track of whether you are achieving your goals along the way. Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable. They
should include a quality of life benchmark as well as things you’ve always wanted to accomplish.

STEP 2: Identify different strategies to achieve your goals. What are you going to do to ensure your goals are met? Are
you aware of any obstacles (i.e. genetic, health, other) that could influence your plan? Perhaps one strategy is to focus
on your health – both mental and physical to keep yourself as strong as possible. Other types of strategies might
include topics related to your safety (both at home and in public), entertainment & travel, social engagements, etc.

STEP 3: List the different activities you will perform aligned to each strategy. Each strategy that you came up with in
step 2 should have a list of activities that you’re prepared to complete and a timeline for when they will be completed.
Examples of activities for a mental and physical health strategy might include;
■ A regimented weekly diet
■ Exercise
■ Regular physician visits
■ Preventative care including medication if necessary
■ Continuing education classes
■ Other activities, like puzzles, book clubs

While the Life Plan of Self Care inventory is not meant to be a medical analysis, it captures what the broad parameters
might be for your future health care objectives. Do you envision yourself playing golf into your 60s? Traveling into
your 70s? Climbing mountains, or visiting museums? Walking, bicycling, hiking or jogging? Devoting part of your
household income to regular training and aerobic exercise? Do you see yourself wearing glasses or would you rather
have Lasik? If your family has a tendency toward hearing loss, are you open to a hearing aid and new auditory
enhancing technologies? The choices are yours to the extent your health cooperates, but they should be factored into
your customized plan to achieve the optimal you where possible.

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to reach nearly 95 million by 2060, eventually representing
about a 23% share of the total population.1 As a result, the likelihood of you making the club is excellent.

It’s true you need some genetic good luck to reach an illness-free age 100. Most of us have the capacity to make it well
into our early 90s and largely without chronic disease. As the Adventists demonstrate, the average person’s life
expectancy could increase by 10-12 years by adopting a Blue Zone lifestyle. 2.” 

“Forgetting to die” is frankly a pretty solid concept if one can achieve it – so we make that part of our health care planning for clients. Similar to a financial plan. Meeting your future self is an important part of that process.

Those who wish to discuss long-term health care planning further please contact us

1 U.S. Census information
2 Blue Zones, Dan Buettner

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Constance Ward
Constance M. Moore, MA, CSA, CDP, CMC Client Care Specialist Commerce Trust Company
Constance is the client care specialist for Commerce Trust Company. She provides personalized service and attention to clients as they navigate the decisions, situations and family dynamics that accompany key life stages. Constance specializes in elderly care advisory services, including long-term care facilities, home healthcare services, crisis management, and liaison services. Prior to joining Commerce Bank in 1998, Constance received bachelor and master of arts degrees in guidance counseling from Northeast Missouri State University. She also earned graduate certificates in marriage/family therapy from the Menninger Family Therapy Training Program and in gerontology from Lindenwood University. Constance is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) and an Advanced Professional Certified Care Manager (CMC). She is a member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), and as a trust officer, is held to the fiduciary standards of the Commerce Trust Company.
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