Retirement: the far off utopia that Millennials are scared into saving for and what working professionals believe makes it all worth it. Retirement is the blissful destination for when a morning round of golf and traveling become commonplace. But like with everything, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, especially for those who have spent decades undergoing the daily grind. Retirement may not exactly be the golden years workers have dreamt of and here’s why:
The Retirement Blues
Money is typically the priority when it comes to preparing for retirement, but investing in your psychological portfolio or amassing emotional reserves, shares the American Psychological Association (APA), are just as important. Losing one’s career identity or spouse, loneliness, declining health and trying to replace boredom with activities to fill long days can manifest in anxiety and depression. Mental Health America statistics found that more than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from depression of some kind. Depression results from loss of loved ones, suffering from a chronic disease, rising health care costs and even simply trying to make ends meet.
Financial Crisis for Retirees
It’s also not uncommon for older adults to live anxiously because of financial troubles. One in three Americans have absolutely nothing saved for retirement, according to personal finance online resource GOBankingRates.com. And just as alarming: 56 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement and nearly 75 percent of Americans over 40 are behind on saving for retirement. Fiscal anxiety over lack of funds, debt and even bankruptcy can turn any retiree’s golden years into years darkened by a financial shadow.
Take Control of Your Future
These mental and financial health statistics aren’t meant to frighten those approaching their elder years, but rather serve as motivators to prepare for retirement and know what to expect. A good blueprint for a healthy and happy retirement may include:
- Working Toward Wellness: The APA defines working during retirement, such as self-employment, as “bridge employment” or “encore work.” Working in some capacity offers financial perks, along with mental, emotional and social benefits (e.g., preventing cognitive decline). The American Association of Retired Persons recommends types of jobs for older adults, from translator and tax-return preparer to park ranger and dog walker.
- Entrepreneurship: Retirement can be an exciting opportunity to work independently as an entrepreneur. Tom Sightings, baby boomer, author of “You Only Retire Once” and blogger for his site “Sightings at Sixty,” suggests ideas like starting an Airbnb, consulting or dog walking/sitting. Seniors may even invest in entrepreneurship through companies like Amway, which offers Amway Education for those who are brand new to starting a business. They’ll provide curriculum, tools, virtual courses, how-to guides and tips for growing a business. For many, self-employment would be a career change and opportunity to keep learning, reach goals and earn an income.
- Family & Social Networks: It’s common for an older adult to fall into loneliness after leaving the workplace and/or losing a spouse. This may be the right time to move to an active senior community or near long-distance family, such as your adult children and grandchildren. Also, make an effort to get out of the house. Rather than eating another grilled cheese sandwich, picking a new recipe and going to the grocery to get the ingredients can serve as a mini adventure for the day. Meet new people at a senior meetup, join a fitness program at your gym or learn a new hobby like dancing or quilting. Altruism boosts life satisfaction as well for the aging. Not only are you making a difference, but you’re engaging with others and getting out in the community.
Like any stage in life, retirement doesn’t come with any happiness guarantees. But developing a retirement plan can help ensure the golden years become a golden reality, whether retirement is still years away or you’re a veteran retiree who’s in need of a change. Just remember, it’s never too late to take a risk and change the course of the rest of your life.