I recently saw a very confronting program on SBS, it featured three women, all in their 60s and 70s who, due to unexpected events, had become homeless.

What was particularly disturbing about this show was that these women were intelligent, articulate and had achieved success in their chosen careers.

Despite having lived fairly normal, financially comfortable lives with no drug dependency, they were all homeless and living in cars or couch surfing. Unfortunately, their cases are not particularly unusual.

This program brought home to me just how fickle fate can be and how an unexpected illness, retrenchment or simply bad luck can have such a devastating effect on our lives.

Obviously the older you are, the harder it is to recover from an unexpected financial disaster.

Have you ever stopped to think about how you would respond to a major tragedy - whether it be to your health, finances or relationship?

One factor that these women all had in common was that they didn’t really do any planning for their retirement years and just thought that their normal, comfortable lives would go on indefinitely. When they were confronted with major, unwelcomed changes in their lives, they simply weren’t prepared and they were overwhelmed with awful consequences.

The unfortunate reality is that life sometimes isn’t fair and once we reach our 50s, 60s and 70s, we enter times of major change. We leave work. We lose our industry network. Friends and relatives pass away. We travel to new countries. We move house. Our lifestyle changes.

While we have no control over good and bad luck, as we are getting older, we often encounter some health problems, so it’s a good idea to do some planning around how we could handle some of the more likely challenges that may come our way.

Think about your life and throw in a few “what ifs”. How would you respond if some of these “what ifs” actually happened?

The one thing that we can be sure of is that we’ll be living with ongoing change and the pace of that change will keep increasing.