The images we see of retirement usually show people at the beach, holding a golf club or tennis racket, or walking in the great outdoors. What if none of these appeal to you? Or declining health takes golf and tennis off the table?
Sitting in the house after being separated from meaningful work can mean isolation and depression. “Over the top spending” will most likely produce diminishing levels of satisfaction and may put your retirement in jeopardy.
Loss of a spouse can cause some folks to shut down and lose their ability to think straight. Sitting alone can make you more open to scamsters because their approach is to come across as someone who gives you their full attention as a “friend”.
Depression in retirement is a big issue, especially for men. According to the American Association of Suicidology, the 65-plus age group makes up 12.5% of the population, yet accounts for 15.9% of all suicides. White men over age 65 take their own life at almost triple the overall rate and are eight times more likely to kill themselves than women in the same age group.
So, how do we prepare for this thing called retirement. Pre-retirement needs to have a period of assessment of what you are actually going to do in retirement. I have seen retirees make a full life around their religious life; church attendance, supporting outreach ministries, foyer group dinners, church retreats, and being on various church committees in between travels.
This may not be for you, but the bottom line is you should answer this question of what you are going to do in retirement before the day comes. It may be supporting the arts as a volunteer usher, being a member of a community choir, measuring the water quality in local streams, being on a board of a small non-profit, assisting in youth sports, a facilitator for a community conflict resolution center, or volunteering in schools.
But it needs to be something. You want to build a network of friends for the day that all you and they can do is sit and talk together. If you have not built up that network for that day, you are going to be sorry. Get busy now!
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Peter B. Smith is a Family Wealth Advisor at the Planning Solutions Group in Fulton, MD and is an Annapolis resident. He can be reached at 301-543-6008 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.