Here's a checklist for your retirement

It will have a huge impact on your life. Maybe it’s a few years away, and maybe it’s just around the corner. No matter when you anticipate retirement, it can be overwhelming. Ease into it with a checklist. Here are a few suggestions.

Retirement bucket list

What would you like to do when you retire? What is on your bucket list? How will you spend your time so that it gives you joy, pleasure and satisfaction? You can start thinking about this years before you retire, or as you are easing into it. Perhaps you could discuss these ideas with friends and family. Start a notebook or a journal, even a scrapbook where you can both brainstorm in general, and write down very specific goals and ideas. It’s a moving target. Write down your ideas and goals as they evolve during your retirement. Consider outlining an action plan to make it happen.


How will you keep your old relationships and grow new ones, now that you do not have the social relationships built into work? Perhaps you could meet with friends and colleagues once a week for breakfast or lunch. Check out the activities at the senior center, community center, your church, or political organizations. Explore volunteering with nonprofit organizations. Check out social media to maintain and expand your friendships. Consider starting your own business or finding another job that suits your needs for additional income and sociability.


What is your financial situation now, and will there be enough money as the years go by? You will need a financial analysis and a budget. This is really important. Help is available if financial planning is not your best skill. Consumer Reports recommends to look for a “fee-only financial planner ... These professionals charge only for their advice, and they don’t earn commissions based on the investments you choose.”

One place to find local recommendations is the website of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. There are also low-cost online advisory services such as those offered by Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. Note, however, that this type of service generally focuses on investment management rather than overall financial planning.

Social Security

Social Security often plays a crucial role in the financial wellbeing of retirees. The timing of when you decide to receive Social Security has a direct impact on how much you’ll get in monthly benefits for the rest of your life. AARP has a wealth of information on their web site that will be helpful to you about when to get Social Security and how to do it. In addition, see, the official Social Security website. There are Social Security offices in Anchorage (1-866-772-3081), Juneau (1-800-478-7124), and Fairbanks (1-800-478-0391).


Medicare offers extremely low-cost health care to retirees. Generally, you should sign up about three months before you turn 65, whether or not you intend to collect Social Security payments at that time. Call the Alaska Medicare Information Office for helpful advice about your options and other details. There are Medicare counselors all over the state. For more information, call toll-free within Alaska: 800-478-6065, TTY: 800-770-8973.


Where and how will you live after retirement? For most households, housing is the biggest cost and largest asset. Perhaps you want to “age in place” – an increasingly popular option. According to Ken Helander, Associate State Director for Advocacy at AARP-Alaska:

“Our home environment is probably the most important thing about maintaining our independence, so we have to make sure that it supports our independence. Consider few stairs or one level, wide hallways, grab bars in the bathrooms, things that you can reach, and probably good neighbors that you can call on when you need some help.”

See some lower-cost housing options in the Senior and Accessible Housing section of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation website. For an overview, see the AARP Livable Communities web page.

More to consider

Here are a few more issues to consider for your retirement checklist:

advanced directives

home services and home health care options

wills, trusts and life insurance

estate planning

long-term care insurance

assisted living options

Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)

Finally, having trouble answering a retirement-related question not addressed above? Alaska’s ADRCs connect seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers with general information, long-term services, and supports of their choice. The ADRC network serves Alaskans statewide, regardless of age or income level, through regional sites. For assistance, call the statewide number, 1-855-565-2017 toll-free.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.