Five tips to set you on the right path to retirement

  • Compass with needle pointing the word retirement, concept image to illustrate retirement planning

    Compass with needle pointing the word retirement, concept image to illustrate retirement planning

  • Bob Gallo

    Bob Gallo

Posted11/7/2019 1:00 AM

You're months away from retirement. The greeting cards have begun to arrive with whimsical images of golf carts, umbrella drinks and palm trees, and for good reason. After decades in the workforce, permission to leave the 40-hour-week lifestyle is absolutely an accomplishment worth raising a glass to in the ocean breeze.

But as with any transition in life, there will be adjustments.


Variables including financial security, physical and mental health and caregiving responsibilities will all play a role in how you spend your Snowbird years.

As state director of AARP Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving lives for those 50-plus and their families,

I am often asked about what older adults can do to best prepare for the next chapter.

Here are a few tips to set you off on the right path:

1. Start activities early:

I have a friend, a dentist, who has been volunteering his time for Doctors Without Borders for several years. Even with his full-time practice, he has taken weeks away to indulge his personal passion of providing dental services to children in Third World countries.

It's an arrangement that has prepared him well for retirement.

If he chooses to continue with this passion on a larger scale, he has well-established contacts, travel documents and experience to make this happen seamlessly.

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The lesson: create relationships and opportunities before you retire so that you can dive into your next phase easily.

3. Health care stress:

The cost of health care is the No. 1 concern among Americans 50-plus, according to 2019 study prepared by GfK Consumer Life for AARP. Contributing to this worry, no doubt, is that the Medicare system can be confusing and overwhelming to newcomers.

Take advantage of nonprofit organizations like AARP that work to help older adults to make sense of the benefits available to them.

Visit and search Medicare for a variety of resources.

4. Volunteering search:

So many ways to give, so little time! offers a convenient volunteer-matching service that pairs users with opportunities in their area. You can plug in your interest areas and geographic location to find the best fit for you.

5. Be on Guard:

Cases of financial elderly abuse reported by banks have risen by more than 50 percent in the last five years. Artificial Intelligence and innovation can help secure information if you are open to exploring the options.


Staying up to speed on various scam tactics is another line of defense. Or call the AARP helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect a scam.

There's a reason why AARP has changed the last two letters of our acronym in recent years to stand for "Real Possibilities."

We wish you the best as you tackle them.

Happy retirement.

• Bob Gallo is state director of AARP Illinois

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