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hoopsJust as the NCAA tournament begins with 64 teams out of the hundreds of college teams that play basketball, each year we can identify 64 concerns out of the myriad we face. From the trivial question of “he loves me, she loves me not” to the bigger worries of lumps and bumps and bad radiology reports there is a plethora of issues we must confront. Just as brackets for the tournaments were drawn and blown and the strongest teams are still standing, so our biggest problems will continue to grow stronger if we do not address them.

When we look at the schools still in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four, names like Duke and UConn bring up mental pictures for each of us. Strength, endurance and tenacity are terms that come to mind. So what images come to mind when I give you my Final Four concerns that need to be addressed as we age?

Dreams: there is always the question of whether we will have enough financial resources to do all that we have planned and hoped to do when opportunities present themselves. What goals can we set and what systems can we put in place now to be sure that we will have enough later?

Access: we need to ask whether we will be able to access the medical care we want as we age. Will we be able to go to the providers we want, to purchase the prescriptions our providers recommend and to afford the procedures we need?

Dignity: will we be cared for the way we want to be when we can no longer care for ourselves? Will we be able live out our days with the same dignity with which we have lived our lives so far?

Legacy: will we leave the legacy we have worked so hard for? Have we crafted the financial and legal documents to implement our wishes when we are no longer able to?

The sooner we recognize that these will certainly be among the most important issues we must face, the better we can prepare to have positive responses to these questions. The one word common to success in both NCAA tournaments and in our personal lives is discipline: behavior and order maintained by training and control. (dictionary.com)

Let’s tighten our budgets a little now so that we will have more later on. Let’s watch our diet and exercise to not only be physically stronger as we age, but also to spend less on healthcare in retirement. Let’s have those uncomfortable conversations about wills and trusts and powers of attorney before our stubbornness prevents us from implementing the plans that are so necessary to honor our wishes later.

At the end of the NCAA tournaments there will be one winner for each of the Men’s and Women’s brackets. We have the opportunity to be winners ourselves if we take note of the sacrifice and discipline that these athletes have followed to be successful.