Don’t Settle for a Retirement You Don’t Enjoy
Views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog belong solely to the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Posted August 3, 2022.
Has your retirement lived up to your expectations?
When we were young, retirement was way down the road. We never paid much attention to it.
As we got older, we realized retirement was coming and we started thinking more about it. We had some general ideas on what it would look like, but nothing specific.
Then we reached our 60’s. Now, retirement was almost in front of us. We started to think more regularly about what we would do. We even discussed it and started planning with our spouses.
Sadly, Many of Us Didn’t Plan Well
We had visions of playing a lot of golf, going to sporting events, and maybe even traveling a lot. Sadly, these activities didn’t take up all the time we had on our hands. While we still desired to travel, we found we didn’t have the money to travel as much as we thought we would. We had no idea how to spend our time.
Men are more guilty than women of having all of these dreams that don’t materialize. They find themselves with a lot more time on their hands than they are able to fill. They spend far more time doing nothing than they thought they would.
Sometimes, they start following their wives around just for company. They watch what their wives are doing and tell them how they can do their work better. Tempers rise and arguments occur. To save their marriages, their wives make up reasons to get out of the home for time away from their husbands.
At 60, We Have No Idea of How Much Longer We’ll Live
As people approach their 60’s, most have no idea of how much longer they will live.
If you do a Google search today, you will find a 65 year-old man who is in relatively good health can expect to live 18.2 more years. A 65 year-old woman can expect to live 20.8 years.
That’s quite a few years. If a person does not have things to do, they are not going to be as happy as they expected.
Another thing most don’t realize is that as they get older, they are going to spend more and more of their time alone daily. At 60 years of age, the average person spends 400 minutes a day alone. That’s 6 hours and 40 minutes every day. That increases to almost 500 minutes at 80. That’s 8 hours and 20 minutes.
During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of time older people were spending alone increased substantially. They were urged to stay home and avoid being out in public. Many of the group activities they may have participated in were cancelled.
Far Too Frequently, Loneliness Leads to Depression
In normal times, it is common for many who spend a lot of time alone daily to become depressed. The amount of depression increased during the pandemic. As their depression increased, their desire to do things decreased.
How Do You Avoid Falling into This Trap of Your Retirement Not Being What You Expected?
How Do You Keep Loneliness and Depression Away?
Over the years, there have been many studies of what makes people happiest after they retire.
These studies have found people who sit around all day doing nothing are not happy. In fact, they are far from it. They do the same thing over and over every day. They don’t have friends to spend time with. They are bored. They’re also lonely and depressed.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was much worse for them.
• They were house-bound and couldn’t go out.
• They spent little or no time with friends or family members.
• They didn’t exercise nor did they take care of themselves.
• They ate too much and put on weight.
Their health deteriorated. Their anxiety and depression increased.
The studies found the happiest retired people have many things in common:
• Their physical health is a top priority for them. They see their doctors regularly and follow their advice. They exercise regularly. That’s not necessarily at a gym. They may walk, hike or engage in other types of physical activity.
• They have a purpose in life. They regularly do things in line with that purpose.
• Many volunteer at a non-profit organization. They do work they enjoy that gives them a sense of fulfillment.
• Some people find it necessary to work to supplement their retirement income. Rather than just taking the first job that comes along, they find one they enjoy and that gives them a sense of fulfillment.
• Many are life-long leaners. They are always looking to find out more about subjects that interest them. Some take college courses for fun while others take them to get that degree they always wanted.
• They spend time with their children regularly. They even get together with them on Zoom or Facetime when their children live some distance away from them,
Some do more. Their grown children and spouses both have to work to provide for all of their family needs. Frequently grandparents help them by watching their grandchildren. This saves the cost of daycare.
• Social connections are important for them. They get together with friends frequently. This may be for lunch or some other activity. Some play pickleball or softball. Some hike. Others go to movies.
• Some people like to travel. Many are not expensive trips. They even travel with their friends or family members.
Others buy travel trailers or motor homes. Some have found they can reduce travel expenses by working along the way. Many campgrounds are looking for retired people to be campground hosts. The campgrounds provide free campsites and other amenities in exchange for help around the campground. The campground hosts may have to collect fees, make sure campers follow the rules and clean-up sites after campers leave.
• During their free time, some engage in a wide range of other activities.
They might plant vegetables or tend flower gardens.
They might read books or watch movies.
Some compile their family tree to make sure their children and grandchildren know their family’s history.
Some even write their life story.
• Many get more involved with their church. Every church always has a need for volunteers. They might need teachers. They might need ushers or greeters. They might need help with their Food Pantry. They might need drivers for the church bus or workers for the Handyman Ministry.
These People Also Find This is a Time When They Can Take Risks and Push Their Own Boundaries
They do things they never would have when they were younger – those things they always wanted to try but were afraid to. They realize they are no longer restricted by work or other obligations. In the process, they grow and enjoy life more.
What Will You Do?
If you are approaching retirement, start thinking about what will make you happy after you retire.
Remember – You are the only one who can create this retirement. Plan to do what you want that will be most fulfilling for you and will make you the happiest.
Stay active and wake up each day with purpose and something to do.
If you have already retired and retirement is not as happy as you expected, it’s not too late to make changes. Look through this list of what the happiest retirees do. Start to do those things that you like and will be more fulfilling.
One last Thought – Remember – This is your life and you are in control.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, I would love to get them. Please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is email@example.com.