Three Keys to a Healthier Retirement

A well-planned retirement is something to look forward to. Those who are paying attention to the financial aspects are setting the stage “where they can experience their second childhood without parental supervision,” says Kenneth Moraif, CFP®, CRPC®, senior retirement planner and founder at Retirement Planners of America. Done right, “it can be like having the whole summer off for the rest of your life.”

But at the same time, retirement can introduce an array of lifestyle changes. Most of these can be positive: it means more time for leisure, travel, time with your spouse, children, grandchildren, and hobbies. However, other changes can be detrimental such as the introduction of stress, or the onset of inactivity and loneliness. Consequently, as you are nearing your retirement years, be sure to address the emotional and physical aspects alongside the financial.

Three keys to an emotionally balanced retirement

Change can be stressful, and retirement is no exception. But thankfully, there are a handful of measures that can reduce the risks of physical and emotional health challenges in retirement. So as part of your next phase of life planning, be sure to address these goals:

Maintain a healthy social network

“Retirement typically brings changes to daily routines that reduce the amount of social interactions – and that can impact your health,” says Dennis D. Coughlin, CFP®, an advisor at CG Capital TM.

Social healthLeaving work often correlates to leaving friends which can lead to loneliness. This is a key reason, continues Coughlin, that “often, Americans defer their decision for retirement for the sake of maintaining a social network.”

But beyond extending employment years, there are other options. For example, consider transitioning into a consulting or contract role with former employers or clients, albeit working fewer hours against a less structured or demanding schedule. This is an excellent means of transitioning from fully employed to semi-retired plus allows for continued connections with colleagues.

Another means of developing and maintaining a social network is to volunteer in the community or even with a national or global charitable organization. Such groups are always looking for added horsepower, and the work can range from serving as a museum or arboretum docent to providing basic care assistance at a hospital to perhaps becoming an executive board member.

Remain – or become – physically active

In a 2016 study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 27 percent of seniors aged 65-74 get no physical activity outside of work rising to 35 percent at 75 years and up. In turn, countless studies show a high correlation between inactivity and chronic disease and death.

“The aging process brings with it changes to the body which impacts day-to-day function,” says Gary Scheer, RFC®, CSA®, of Gary Scheer LLC. “Remaining safe and mobile should be top priorities for aging adults.”

fitness workThere is no question that quality of life in retirement is closely intertwined with physical health and mental health. So, as you are transitioning into retirement, be sure to assess your ability and willingness to remain active. Is it a health club or personal trainer? Will it be tennis, skiing, or swimming? Retirees need activity.

Of course, this can become more challenging with the passage of time. One option to consider is a move “to a master planned community,” says Scheer, which will feature all manner of activities for a more active lifestyle. Later, an assisted living facility may be a beneficial option, he said.

“Moving is a good choice to help solve some of these physical challenges,” says Scheer. Overall, Scheer finds it important in his practice to “help clients who are preparing to retire give careful consideration as to how they will spend their time in retirement.” This is particularly important, he says, for “those who are single or who don’t have any hobbies.”

Be realistic – focusing on what really matters

One of the keys to mental health and happiness is to be realistic and content with oneself. But in an era of social media, outside influences may challenge our self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

“It's so easy to see what everyone else has and compare it to what you don't have,” says Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®, partner at Diversified Lifelong Advisors. “The trap is that if all you see is a small snippet into the great things others post, then you believe that's what everyone else’s lives are like. It can lead you to focus on just trying to keep up with the Joneses and the other 500 people you follow online.”

But the better approach, says Rosen, is to for soon-to-be retirees to focus on what really matters to them and theirs. He suggests that as you are planning for your retirement, carefully consider the following questions and then provide authentic and realistic answers:

• What is important to your happiness?
• What is important to your goals?
• What is important to you as a person?

“Rather than be so concerned on what the superficial outside world is telling you is important, instead align and achieve your goals – and use your finances to promote that,” says Rosen.


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