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Over the last few weeks I have been surrounded by friends and family members dealing with the challenges of an aging relative. Their specific situations and circumstances are different, but in each case I have been amazed by how much the attitude of each individual impacts their ability to cope with the issues they’re facing.

The woman who helped care for me before I started elementary school is now in her mid-80’s and has no living relatives, so my parents have adopted her as family. They make meals for her, take her to church, clean her apartment and repair what needs fixed. They are with her nearly every day, but she does not know what to do with her time when they’re not around. She has no significant health problems, but her health is failing and she is becoming very frail because she has no enthusiasm for living.

My great aunt is 101 years old and legally blind. She has lived alone in a small, three story house since her husband died over 25 years ago. A retired English teacher, she loves listening to books on tape, Marshall University basketball games and the news. She tends her small garden in the back of her house and looks forward to trips to Captain D’s for lunch with young friends. She shows no signs of slowing down.

As a financial advisor, I am able to learn from the collective experience of the people I serve. People who are happy and healthy in their 70’s, 80’s and beyond have one thing in common – they have not lost their love of life. They all have a purpose, a reason for living.

As a society we race from one task to the next, and spend very little time in quiet reflection. We need to stop and ask ourselves:
What makes me happy?
What’s missing in my life?
What will keep me going when everything isn’t perfect?

If we take time now to understand ourselves, and know what gives our lives purpose, then we can live fuller lives today and better lives beyond 100.

By Jeannette Jones, CPA, CFP(r)