In working on last week's article about home repairs, I realized many in my age group are unprepared for retirement. We are working so hard that we don't often slow down and plan for our future.

Retirement will come whether we are ready or not.

While our physical homes certainly need to be in good repair, we also need to start to dispose of possessions we no longer use. My mother no longer entertains, so doesn't need her "good" china any longer. I am sure there are many things I no longer need and should donate.

Now would be a good time for many of us to sort through our possessions and decide what to keep, so we don't have to do it when we are older.

Here are a few questions to consider:

•Where do you want to spend your later years? Do you want to stay here in Crestview, in the home you love, or do you want to relocate closer to family?

•Have you calculated how much money you will need to retire?

•Is your home paid off? If not, do you have the money to pay it off and relieve yourself of this financial burden?

•Are your finances in order? Have you paid off all outstanding debts? Do you have a good savings account or solid investments?

•In what shape are your roof, flooring, bathroom fixtures, water heater, etc.? Do you need to replace these or other appliances before retirement?

•Should something happen such as a long hospital stay or assisted living, have you prepared specifically for your pets' future? Please don't leave their future in jeopardy.

•Can you and your spouse physically maneuver in your home as you age?

•Have you planned financially for long-term medical care should either of you need it?

As one can see, there are many decisions that must be made before we retire. We need to seriously look at the items mentioned above and be realistic.

It will be much easier to perform needed home modifications or repairs while one is still working rather than after retirement, so plan carefully.

Here is a retirement calculator that can help one plan for the future:

Let's not get taken by surprise as the future comes at us full speed.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.