Live Smart After 50!, by Natalie Eldridge

Two heads are better than one. So how about 33? Live Smart After 50! compiles advice from 33 retirement advice experts from the Life Planning Network. Live Smart After 50! offers a holistic perspective for retirement planning, covering a wide spectrum of issues central to your life during retirement.

Live Smart After 50! doesn’t shy away from topics that might make the reader uncomfortable. The section entitled, “Sex: Are Older People Doing It?” dispels some commonly-held myths about sexuality among older adults.  In the “Your Wishes Matter” section, the author covers “things you would rather not think about,” with some common-sense advice for estate-planning, and items so obvious you might have missed them. Do you know who the beneficiaries are for your IRA? Have you reviewed that information in the past 10 years? The author of this section points out that a will alone is no longer considered sufficient estate-planning.

This book is broken up into distinct sections, making it easy to skip to the sections you find most applicable. Many sections come with quizzes, checklists, and lists of resources to help you figure out where you stand in your retirement-planning journey.

My Take
In the “Awaken Your Creativity” section, the author introduces the audience to the concept of neoteny, a characteristic that allows you to maintain childlike characteristics throughout life. Neoteny, the author argues, is important for remaining flexible and creative, and taking up new pursuits. Books about retirement usually discuss the benefits of maturity and growing wiser. Live Smart After 50! adds a twist – embrace your acquired wisdom, but do so as you continue to explore your more childlike traits.

Live Smart After 50! draws attention to the idea that emotional and psychological factors play a role in the aging process. The “Well Being for Life” section reviews an interesting study conducted by Ellen Langer, a Harvard University social psychologist. She introduced her elderly test subjects to an environment that exactly replicated the world of 20 years prior. Later, those test subjects scored higher on mental tests than they had before entering the simulated time-machine. In the 1990s, psychologist Becca Levy of Yale University conducted a study that found elderly people with positive views of aging lived 7.6 years longer than their less positive counterparts.

These insights should give the reader pause – how much are you letting your assumptions about retirement and aging dictate your lifestyle? Many experts will tell you about the importance about health and healthy finances. Life Smart After 50! has a lot to offer readers open to the idea that introspection and self-awareness play a role in healthy aging.

Critique
Like many self-help books that cover lots of territory, this book is an introduction to a variety of topics, with lots of resources to get you started with further reading. If you’re expecting to only read one book about retirement, consider the breadth of the topic and revise your expectations!

Conclusion
Live Smart After 50! makes a great case for planning for every aspect of your life during retirement. The authors of Live Smart continually emphasize that you have to take a stand for your own interests – you are your own best advocate. Take a stand now, and live the life you want.