Most people I know look forward to retirement someday. They dream about travel, dining out, spending more time with family, etc. These are the things that people plan and save for. This vision of retirement is what we see in commercials, on websites (mine included) and elsewhere.
There is however, a different side to retirement, and it is one that future retirees don't plan for. Retirement can quite literally be hazardous to your health! The statistics* are staggering. Retirees have
40% higher rates of clinical depression
Watch an average of 4.5 hours of TV per day
A 56% increased likelihood of stroke.
85% increase in alcohol or drug use
Men over age 65 have the highest suicide rate
Decrease in physical activity
40% of women over age 70 live alone
80% of men die married vs. 80% of women die single
Experience a sudden and immediate decline in their social life.
Most of these negative effects are directly attributable to a loss of identity due to the change in their daily routine. Much of a pre-retiree's social life is often related to their work. Once work stops, many of the social interactions that retirees have stop as well. Ironically, none of these items listed rank as the biggest concerns of retirees which include housing, transportation, and healthcare.
I hope I didn't scare you away from the idea of retirement! Not all of the data is bad. First, it's important to note that there are plenty of studies that suggest retirement actually improves your health. While this is encouraging, the reality is that retirement can be either positive or negative depending on the individual and moreover, how that individual plans out their retirement!
So how do we plan for the non-financial part of retirement? First, we want to look at how you are going to spend your day. You need to replace your old routine (work) with an equally thought-out new routine in retirement. Without a planned routine, you will likely just fall into a random recurring daily pattern and that pattern may very well not be good for your health.
Start by asking yourself a series of questions to discover what you might want to do in retirement. What about what you are passionate about? What skills do you possess that you might want to pass on to others? Mentoring others has been shown to reduce mortality (here is my unsolicited plug for Big Brothers Big Sisters).
Moreover, passing on your lifetime of acquired knowledge or wisdom gives purpose to your life, something that retirees often fear a loss of. What observations have you made watching other retirees? Who among those retirees would you most want to emulate in retirement? There is a terrific website, Encore.org, that helps connect retirees with younger folks to help them in a variety of ways including business, social, etc.
Having a sense of purpose is among the most important factors for an enjoyable retirement. It's no surprise since a sense of identity or purpose is among the top reasons why people don't retire.
Planning out your unique vision for your retirement is the best way to ensure you will feel like the people you see in the retirement ads, even if we may not always look like them. The final reason that it is so important to have a plan for your time in retirement is that it is impossible to plan what your expenses will be in retirement until you know how you will spend your time.
T. Eric Reich, CIMA, CFP, CLU, ChFC is president and founder of Reich Asset Management and can be reached at 609-486-5073 or [email protected].
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Reich Asset Management, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. To view form CRS visit https://bit.ly/KF-Disclosures.