Seriously Future Proofing My Life
I have been thinking about what the period of ‘deep’ lockdown during April and May reminded me of. And I realised that for me it had some resonance with the first couple of months of 2013. I had turned 65 on Christmas Day and in the early new year period, I was spending long periods alone in a state of profound contemplation about the future.

I had been immersed for many months in a situation with my granddaughter India who was hospitalized for the first months of her life, and this had brought home to me the tenuous hold that we all have on life. It had also made me determined to create a whole new direction which spurred me on to launch Look Fabulous Forever.

Seven years later, with Covid 19 rampaging outside my door and once again being forcefully reminded that life is both fragile and precious, I have been giving deep thought to the direction I want my life to take over the next ten years.

In 2013 my solution was to start a new business. This time around my project is more personal but can best be summed up as ‘what can I do now to ‘future proof’ my old age?’ Like all of you I don’t feel old, so I am extremely resistant to the idea of becoming  less capable and more dependent. Many things fill me with dread, so maybe better to just stick my head in the sand and say ‘that time come, that time care for’ in a wonderful expression my friend’s mother often used to say in her strong Suffolk accent. The trouble is that if you don’t care for some things whilst you have the energy and capacity to do so, when you have neither then others will make those decisions for you. And that is precisely what I’d like to avoid. So what to do now?

1. Future Proofing My Health and Wellbeing The longer I can stay healthy and physically active, the more likely I am to be able to live independently and look after myself. Obviously. At a time when danger lurks in a simple shopping trip, it would seem to be a real hostage to fortune to talk about staying fit and healthy. But saying ‘this virus might infect me tomorrow, so I am going to eat, drink and be merry’ doesn’t help either. I have researched longevity sufficiently to convince me that diet (little or no processed food, plant based and largely Meditterranean) is the key to positive physical ageing.

2. Functioning Fitness After a lifetime of resistance I have finally understood what exercise is for. It’s not for a six-pack or for beautifully toned arms. It’s for a strong, flexible and functioning body. Muscle wastage is progressive and sets in relatively early in life, but can be ameliorated by exercise. My criteria for a future proofed body include being able to get out of a chair whilst holding a tray, being able to lift myself out of the bath, being able to get off the floor in two goes, being able to get out of a car with ease and being strong enough to maintain good balance. I also want to be able to walk up two or three flights of stairs without stopping to catch my breath and also to run for a bus or train if the need arises.

3. Is My Home Fit for My Purpose? Right now - yes it is. It’s a ground floor flat, with a step up to the front door and two steps half-way down the narrow hallway. So it’s not wheelchair friendly, which is why functioning fitness is so important to me. My biggest bugbear is that the very small bathroom and only toilet is a fair distance from my bedroom. This is incredibly inconvenient at night because a trip to the loo really wakes me up. My future-proof solution is to sacrifice my second bedroom and create an ensuite bathroom in that. It might be easier to move and buy something purpose built, but I really love where I live, I can walk to the shops and I have a manageable garden. I have decided that I don’t want to move from here, so my plan is to do some remodelling.

4. Do I need a Car? I have hardly driven at all during lockdown. My car has had starting issues (more complicated than a flat battery unfortunately). It’s still at the garage whilst they try to diagnose the problem and I have been forced to walk everywhere. Apart from time (can’t pop out quickly when the milk runs out), having no car hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. But - hang on - my car has always symbolised freedom to me! I have a beautiful two seater sports car which fills me with delight when I see it sitting outside my house waiting to whisk me away. Lockdown has helped me to understand that I need a car for what I actually do, rather than what I might do. I am coming round to the notion that a small electric car (or maybe a hybrid) might fit the bill.

5. My French Dream is Ending And finally the saddest decision of all that I have decided to take. For twenty five years I have had a love affair with a particular region in France. It is the idyllic Drome Provence, and since I bought and restored a ruined house on six acres of land, I have spent every summer there with my friends and family. Whilst part of the EU, visiting there was similar to travelling within the UK, but that is all about to change. I am still perfectly capable of driving the 800 or so miles to get there but I don’t know how much longer that will be feasible or desirable. So I have finally reached the very difficult decision to sell up now rather than at a time in the future when it will be a whole lot more challenging.

Some of you may be surprised that I am even thinking along these lines, after all I am reasonably fit, healthy and active and ‘only’ 72 years old. Lockdown has given me the time and space to think deeply about how I want to shape my longer term future -  if I am lucky enough to have one. I feel that right now I have two choices. I can keep everything as it is, hope for the best and deal with things as they arise, or I can take the necessary steps now to (at least attempt to) future proof my life and be in the best possible shape for any eventuality. Both approaches have their attractions, but, on balance I have decided to adopt the second one in the profound hope that it will achieve my overall goal of independent living for the longest possible time.

How about you? Have you taken difficult decisions to ‘future-proof’ your life as much as possible? Do share your experiences in a comment and join in the conversation.