Today, many look at their so-called “golden years” as an opportunity to redefine themselves by creating a more purposeful retirement – learning, working and volunteering – as well as an active, fulfilling social life. That last part is vital to a happy and healthy retirement, maybe even as important as financial independence.
The benefits of staying social go beyond the emotional aspects of keeping busy or entertained, according to research from the Yale Medical Group. In fact, staying social can improve your physical health as well. An active social life can lead to lower risks of heart problems and high blood pressure, fewer incidences of cancer, and deter osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps most important, it strengthens connections in your brain, lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s and mental health issues.
Social interaction is important at any stage of life, but it can be particularly significant and life-affirming when you’re in your 60s, 70s and 80s. During retirement, will you rely on family for company? Your current friends? Neighbors? Will you have to widen your social circle as friends move closer to family or into retirement communities?
If you’re looking to find “birds of a feather” in your retirement years, consider some of the suggestions on the below.
Volunteer. Volunteer your time and talents to hospitals, animal shelters, schools or libraries. You’ll likely meet fellow retirees and make a difference at the same time. As an added bonus, a study published in BMC Public Health shows that volunteering may improve mental health and help you live longer.
Learn. Institutes of higher learning offer an opportunity to audit college courses, where you could meet friends of all ages. If you’re particularly seeking friends closer to your age, community college classes may be just the ticket.
Congregate. Places of worship and coffee shops are great places to meet people from your neighborhood or community.
Get social. As long as you’re careful not to reveal too much personal information that could open you up to fraud, social networking may be able to connect you with like-minded individuals. There are plenty to choose from, including Facebook and Meetup, which allow you to find and join groups based on a shared interest, career or hobby.
Travel. Consider joining a travel club geared toward fun-loving retirees. Vacationing with peers, who may literally be in the same boat as you, is a great way to meet new friends with similar interests.
Participate. According to the National Council on Aging, regularly visiting a senior center may improve your overall health and well-being. Senior centers offer a variety of activities – from classes and workshops to reading groups and more – and health programs to engage older, active adults.
Exercise. Take a yoga or aerobics exercise class during the day. Many yoga studios and health clubs have classes geared toward the fitness needs of older adults. Even walking around your neighborhood or gardening can create opportunities for you to introduce yourself to others.
Be open. Ask family and friends, who know you well, to introduce you to others who may have similar personalities or interests.
80% of couples disagree on major aspects of their retirement planning. Are you one of them?
When you were single, you likely made most of your investment decisions solely with the help of your financial advisor. As a couple, you’re now part of a financial committee of two – and with your lives and finances entwined, you’re likely to face some serious issues about your financial future together. Even with the best intentions, how these decisions are handled can impact your relationship – for better or worse.
This is especially true when it comes to retirement planning. It’s common for couples to have very different ideas about what retirement would be like, and the cost of providing different lifestyles may vary significantly.
Reconciling your perceptions, wants and needs for retirement – and how you’ll pay for them – is essential to enjoying all that’s to come. To help set the stage, schedule periodic “pre-retirement dates” in which you share, dream and plan together. Try to answer some of the following questions:
These days, retirement age can range anywhere from 55 to 85 (and up). For some, continuing to work may be a financial imperative, while others just want to stay active.
On the beach or on a golf course? Near your children or near a major airport? Should you move to a community with peers your own age or to a college town filled with cultural events? Talk about what activities you want to engage in when you retire, as that might help pinpoint where to live.
You retire, but your best friends stay on the job. Suddenly, you may find you have little in common anymore. Consider whether spending more time with your spouse is something you both want or if you’ll want to broaden your social group.
Naturally, you can dream up a “pie-in-the-sky” retirement if you don’t have to pay for it. You should calculate the sum total of income that your retirement sources will yield. If it’s not enough to meet your plans, or if any of the sources can’t be counted on for reliable income, ask your financial advisor what you can do to help reach your long-term goals. Couples may also be out of sync in their attitudes toward risk – which should also be addressed when you meet with your advisor.
It’s important to accept the reality that declining health will be a factor in retirement. One of you is likely to wind up taking care of the other, and you should talk about each of your preferences for medical care and end-of-life issues long before you reach that point. Doing so can help you better appreciate the time you have together.
Source: Ivy Funds
There are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the United States
As the population of our country ages, the face of caregiving is changing along with it. Today, 80% of those providing long-term care in the United States are not healthcare professionals – instead, they are family members and even friends. There are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the United States. Most help only one aging loved one, but 22% help two, and an impressive, but likely overwhelmed, 7% help three or more.*
With this shift from the clinical to the familial comes another change: A majority of those same individuals do not self-identify as “caregivers,” despite providing assistance to loved ones on a regular basis. This may not seem like a problem, until you consider that caregivers who don’t truly understand their role are less likely to connect with those around them for support and encouragement.
Fostering connections with those who understand what you’re going through can make the road you’re traveling easier to navigate. By standing together, caregivers create a community through shared experience that’s widespread and accessible anywhere, both in their local area and through online platforms.
Many caregivers enjoy participating in community events, attending support groups or gathering over brimming cups of coffee. Group text messages are easy to create and maintain, and provide a safe space to exchange well wishes, best practices, uplifting messages and more. Scheduling regular get-togethers with nearby caregivers is another way to connect, providing an outlet as well as a wealth of resources.
An internet connection can also play an important role in your caregiving experience, cluing you in to new advances in medicine and technology. Not only that, but a majority of caregivers who have accessed online information say that it has helped them cope with stress.
When venturing into online spaces, search out message boards with discussions that reflect your own experiences, pencil in Skype dates with faraway friends, and read up on all the internet has to offer – from in-depth research to lighthearted blog posts. There’s no limit to what you can find.
As a caregiver, you’re part of a community of empowered individuals who give of themselves to better the lives of those they love. And since we’re on the topic of connections, it’s important not to forget the greatest connection that can be strengthened during your time as a caregiver: the one you share and are fostering each day with your loved one.
*Pew Research Center
Sources: bls.gov, pewinternet.org
Material prepared by Raymond James for use by its advisors.
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