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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Consider the Goal of Paying it Forward

 

As the end of the year approaches, many of us take a moment – or longer – to assess the past twelve months, measure our lives against a personal yardstick, and consider ways we may improve both mentally, physical, financial and spiritually. Sounds like New Year’s Resolutions, right?  Well, why not? “The unexamined life is not worth living,” according to Socrates, and I agree. Striving to improve, setting goals, and making a plan – all these actions keep us focused and moving forward so that we can be of better service to our fellow man (and woman).

 

With 2015 at our doorstep, what will you do? How about paying it forward? What can you do for our community to make it a better place? First, have you considered volunteering? Many seniors who are now retired possess immense skills from a lifetime of professional achievement. Consider volunteering time by either helping at a local charity or by taking a leadership position on a charity board. The Volunteer Center of United Way, www.volunteermontereycounty.org is a great website where you can type in keywords to find a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests and abilities.

 

Being out in the community and helping others also provides benefits to you. Studies show that the mental and physical health of a senior who volunteers improves and depression and anxiety are alleviated. Being active and social may also slow cognitive decline. 

 

Another way you can help yourself while helping other is to be generous. No, please do not go out and give all your money away – you may need that – but consider cleaning out closets, drawers and garages and donate usable items to charity. Many of our favorite charities have resale shops that will take your stuff, sell it, and use the proceeds to advance their programs. You have the benefit of a cleaner home while benefitting charity – not to mention how thankful your trustee or personal representative will be later!

 

Being generous also helps you mentally – it releases feel-good chemicals in your brain which can help reduce stress and a giving gesture, like donating, makes everyone – you, the charity and the community – feel more satisfied with life overall.

 

Another pay it forward option is to simply write a note to someone. These days it is so much easier to text, email, or just call that very few of us write handwritten notes anymore. The act of writing a kind note, however, benefits you, the writer, and the recipient. Seniors who write thoughtful notes are using their hands, brain and heart and, in the process, strengthening all three. The recipient may not only feel gladdened by receiving a caring note but may in turn write a kind note to someone else and – viola! – you have just created a really positive chain reaction.

 

Learning a new skill and then teaching it to someone else is also an amazing way to pay it forward. If you have always wanted to learn to do needlepoint, for instance, why not take a class at the local community college or sewing shop and then offer to teach friends or family? Learning a new skill will enliven your mind and, if the skill is coupled with new physical activities, will also strengthen bones and muscles.

 

These are just a few ideas to consider as we come to year-end. No tax, legal or financial checklists or goals this week – just feel good stuff that you can do for yourself and our community.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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