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January 11, 2022


Hi there, 

My former foster daughter Tina is coming to visit me soon, which I’m really looking forward to. Like many families, we’ve been separated since the beginning of the pandemic.

I first met Tina one frigid winter day 27 years ago when a caseworker dropped her off at the house I shared with my (now ex) husband in upstate New York, where we’d moved from New York City. A tiny, bedraggled 13-year-old, she was wearing only a thin jacket and sneakers in the bitter weather. She was hungry and cold, but most of all angry that she’d wound up in foster care because her mother was incarcerated. After a long and difficult period of adjustment—including giving us the silent treatment for weeks—we finally bonded. For life, as it turned out. Tina left foster care and my marriage fell apart, but she and I are still mother and daughter in everything but birth certificate. We have stayed close.

When I told Tina after my divorce that I was worried no one would take care of me in my old age, she said, “Erica, I’ll always take care of you, just like you took care of me.”

Since I have no biological children, Tina is my only heir. Because she’s visiting, I’ve made it a New Year’s resolution to get my affairs in order—the subject of this week’s newsletter. I hope I can follow my own advice.

I’m Erica Manfred, in my late 70s, Geezer Geek, Snarky Senior, and author of I’m Old so Why Aren’t I Wise? I moved to Florida alone in my trusty Ford Focus seven years ago from upstate New York and haven’t regretted it. I’ve always written about my life, and now that I’m old, aging and ageism are what I care about most. I’m writing this newsletter as part of the event platform Life Experienced. Each week, I’ll be exploring what matters to us later in life, from finding community, to nuts-and-bolts stuff like figuring out our phones. I’ll also be interviewing inspiring seniors. Know someone we should feature? Email us at or join us on Facebook

It’s never too soon to get your affairs in order

If you, like me, are reluctant to do end-of-life planning, you are not alone. Only about one in three Americans complete any kind of directive for end-of-life care, according to this study. The percentage for those over 65 is slightly higher. Slightly less than half of Americans write their wills, although that number is higher for those over 65.

I’m bad at paying my bills, much less paying the Grim Reaper, so I’ve been putting off getting my affairs in order. I hate making decisions, and end-of-life planning involves a long series of difficult decisions. The amount of paperwork is only part of the problem. It’s also the in-your-face reality of death.

Like any other daunting task, the answer is to take it one step at a time. The first step is to make a list of all the things you need to do and check them off one by one. Here’s an informative article from the National Institute on Aging which covers all the bases. Hopefully you’ve got some of this done, but if not, now is a good time to get started. This is a simplified list, but each section has a link to a site with more details.

  • Store all your important papers in one place and make sure someone you can trust knows where that is. Important papers include your will, living will, health care proxy, financial information, power of attorney, Social Security and Medicare numbers, bank accounts, investment accounts, deeds and mortgages, title to your car, and credit card information.
  • Make sure someone has your passwords and PIN numbers to your phone, computer, and tablet. I have LastPass, a master password manager, so one password should suffice for Tina. I plan to give her my computer, which should make it easier.
  • Don’t forget social media accounts. Tell your trusted person what you want posted online in the event of your death. Many people give control of their Facebook to an heir to post news about their death, obituary, memorial, etc. Others want everything deleted. 
  • Make a will that covers your property and assets. Everyone needs a will, even if you don’t have many assets—here’s a good explanation as to why. Here’s a simple guide to making a will, which you should include with your important papers. My will was made way back when I was married, so it needs to be revised. 
  • Make a living will (also known as a health care directive or advance directive) that covers your end-of-life wishes for medical intervention. These are complicated and can include lots of end-of-life decisions, including a DNR (do not resuscitate order) so you won’t be subject to heroic measures if you don’t want them. Appointment of a health care proxy to make those decisions if you can’t should be included. Consult your doctor when drawing this up. Here is a helpful article on how these directives work from the Mayo Clinic. 
  • Make arrangements for your remains. Funerals are expensive, and you don’t want to stick your heirs with charges they can’t afford. I plan to donate my body to science, which is free. 
  • Consult a lawyer to make sure everything is in order. If you can’t afford to pay a private lawyer, consider a legal service like LegalShield, which charges a monthly fee and offers phone consultations with a lawyer and a last will and testament template. 

Are your affairs in order? What kind of plans have you made? Email me at or join us on Facebook

Featured event

Black Comic Book Festival

From the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 
Date and Time: Thursday, January 13, through Saturday, January 15
12:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m. EST

This annual event features panel discussions, workshops, cosplay showcases, and highlights the work of creators from across the country. Watch it with your grandkids.

Partner spotlight

St. Joseph Center’s mission is to provide working poor families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages, with the resources and tools, including guidance on housing, mental health care, and education, to become productive, stable, and self-supporting members of the community.

Recognizing the dignity that every person possesses is the cornerstone of St. Joseph Center’s approach. We are an inclusive, diverse force for change.

Staff and volunteers make every effort to provide a welcoming, safe place where all people are treated with compassion and respect.

Visit us at or call us at 310-396-6468.

Share your thoughts

We want to hear from you! 

What are your plans, hopes, or goals for the new year?

Please click here and share your thoughts. We may feature your submission in an upcoming Life Experienced newsletter. 

What’s in the news

I was inspired recently by the bravery of a friend—Rebecca Coffey, a 69-year-old journalist who decided to finally overcome her acrophobia (fear of heights) by signing up for a City Climb adventure at Hudson Yards in New York City. Once unable to get on a kiddie roller coaster, Coffey climbed 161 stairs to a platform almost 1,300 feet off the ground. Then she leaned off the platform. Of course, she was secured by a halter tethered to a trolley that was bolted firmly onto the building, but she was still terrified.

On her way up, Coffey tested counter-phobia tricks she’s been learning for decades. They worked. She made it to the top, then came back and wrote about disabling phobias and the techniques therapists use to cure them for Forbes.

Rebecca Coffey proved you’re never too old to get over a phobia.

Health, love, and skiing

Each week, we’ll be sharing a testimonial from people like you talking about their hobbies, interests, and passions. Watch this video to meet Jon and hear about his love for skiing.

Become a partner

Does your organization reach a community of older adults? Get in touch with us for information on amplifying your events and activities on the platform and expanding the Life Experienced service to your network. There is no cost to partnering. Get in touch with us here:

That’s it! Thanks for reading. And if you want to chime in with your two cents on what this newsletter should include, email us at

Until next time, 

Events are more fun with friends

Life Experienced is a new service powered by Kaiser Permanente. Whether you're a dancer, a reader, or a gardener, we can help you find local events and activities that you'll love.

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