Sarah Zarbock, 65, was never comfortable talking about money. Like many women her age, she always avoided conversations about finances and planning.
That changed last summer when the Lakeville resident attended the training session of a program developed by AARP called "Decide. Create. Share."
See also: 10 steps to prepare for retirement.
The program helps women in their 40s, 50s and 60s take steps now to prepare for a healthy and safe future. Its mission is to encourage women to envision their futures, to create a plan to help them achieve their goals, and to share that plan with the people in their lives.
Woman to woman
About 50 volunteers who went through the training, including Zarbock, have begun making presentations at book groups, women's clubs, service organizations and other places women gather.
In small, informal settings, the volunteer facilitators provide information and then invite participants to discuss issues in four basic areas: health, finances, legal concerns, and home and community.
Participants are encouraged to talk about their own situations and to create a plan outlining how to reduce health risks, pay for long-term care, decide whether their homes will meet their needs in the future, and ensure their health care wishes are followed in an emergency.
Zarbock said the program "reminds me of the connections I had with women in the '70s. This feels like a re-creation of that time and the values we had of helping each other. Now we're aging women, and we need those connections again."
"Decide. Create. Share." is aimed at women because women tend to live longer than men and are far more likely to spend some of their later years alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that women who are 65 today can expect to live another 20 years. Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute projects that about 79 percent of 65-year-old women will need some long-term care during their lifetimes.
"What we want to communicate is that the time to think about this is now, before a crisis comes," Green said.