Arbor Outlook: Virus, tough times and Paul McCartney

Santa Rosas Press Gazette

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me

When I’m sixty-four?”

as performed by The Beatles and written by Paul McCartney at age 16

Boomers have rarely enjoyed the luxury of doing things the easy way. For years we have attempted to build our own retirement nest egg, often while caring for parents and providing financial assistance to children. We have lived through wage stagnation, escalating college costs, globalization, disappearing pensions, the Great Recession and now a global pandemic, and still many of us have managed to survive with our retirement accounts intact.

Now, when many of us are considering retirement and relocation ourselves, our decisions are infinitely more problematic due to the virus.

Margaret R. McDowell

One of the biggest issues of our generation is the question of where and how to live as we age. Even in normal times, choosing a location and lifestyle in retirement is a crucial decision. We want peace and quiet when we need it; we want frequent social engagement opportunities; we desire facilities for exercise; and we also value educational and cultural activities. Throw in some fun day trip destinations and a handful of excellent restaurants, and we're set, right?

Many of our clients wrestle with the decision on where and how to live, even as they care for parents in retirement or assisted living facilities. Some are comfortable where they are. Some choose to move to active 55-and-over communities. Others, especially after the loss of a spouse, often relocate near children and grandchildren.

There are many options available to us, but now we hesitate because we don't want to place ourselves in harm's way. The pandemic has complicated matters, to say the least. Many assisted living facilities which house Boomers and their parents have been virus hotspots. Emergency protocols prohibiting visits have been established to prevent its spread. Of course, these protocols prevent elders from receiving what is needed most, which is stimulation and social engagement.

Many Boomers are rethinking what we need in terms of housing. After sheltering-in-place for over six months, many couples are concluding that they need more space. A recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Judith Graham addresses this very issue. "Kim Beckman, 64, and her husband, Mike, were ready to give up being homeowners in Victoria, Texas, and join a 55-plus community or rent in an independent living apartment building in northern Texas before Covid-19 hit," writes Graham. "Now, they’re considering buying an even bigger home because

'if you’re going to be in the house all the time, you might as well be comfortable,' Beckman said.”

Others are rethinking moving to retirement and assisted living facilities, fearing potential exposure to the virus. So many Boomers are "holding their ground," and waiting to see what transpires with Covid-19 in the next few months.

Fortunately, many of us enjoy the resources that allow for choices in retirement lifestyles. Unfortunately, we lack the vital element of time. Every day in limbo is a day we fail to maximize a well-deserved retirement.

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC®, AIF®, author of the syndicated economic column “Arbor Outlook,” is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850.608.6121 –, a fiduciary, “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Destin, FL. This column should not be considered personalized investment advice and provides no assurance that any specific strategy or investment will be suitable or profitable for an investor.