What does retirement look like to you?
To hear the financial services industry tell it, retirement looks like a distinguished grey-haired man and an attractive silver-haired woman walking hand in hand down a magnificent beach, enjoying the sunset while gazing lovingly and contentedly into each other’s eyes. They don’t have a care in the world, and why should they? They are retired.
This is the image we’ve all seen in hundreds of retirement commercials and advertisements, not to mention those for pharmacologically assisted intimacy (that, however, is a whole different topic).
But is there a dark side of retirement that no one talks about?
Statistics suggest there is. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
- The proportion of older people treated for a combination of cocaine and alcohol abuse tripled between 1992 and 2008.
- Cocaine abuse among the elderly was the leading cause of hospital admissions involving drugs, even outpacing admissions for prescription drug abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Among Americans of all ages, 12.4 per 100,000 will take their own life each year.
- Among people over age 65, that number jumps to 14.9 — and some experts believe the instances are under-reported.
- As startling as those numbers are, white men over age 65 take their own lives at a rate of 29 per 100,000 — almost triple the overall rate.
There are certainly many contributors to these troubling statistics.
However, leaving the workforce can create a profound sense of loss. Retirees are often left searching for an identity, as well as for ways to stay socially connected, and lead an active, productive, and healthy lifestyle.
These issues can become even more challenging as we continue to age, face health issues and the loss of independence, and endure the loss of friends and the loss of a spouse. With so many significant changes taking place, it’s not surprising that depression is the most significant risk factor for suicide among the elderly.
Whether you’re preparing for retirement or in retirement now, take some time to consider the following:
- What are you interested in that you would one day like to explore further?
- What three to six people can you turn to for emotional, physical, and spiritual support?
- What will a perfect day in retirement look like? What about a perfect week?
- In what ways will you stay active and fit in retirement?
Now, complete the following sentences:
- If I had the time, I would …
- If I had the money, I would …
- It’s never too late to …
Remember, retirement is more than just a financial event.
It is one of life’s major transitions and should be approached as such. Working with us to prepare your finances is certainly a crucial aspect to a happy retirement, but so is preparing your mind and your body.
With a sound financial plan in place, you can do the things you envision and avoid the stress that comes with worrying about how the bills will be paid. With emotional well-being comes vitality, energy, and the desire to do and explore, as well as the friends and family to enjoy and to turn to for support.
And with health comes the ability to make the most of all of these wonderful aspects of life.
Balancing care for your mind, body, and wallet will help you enjoy the retirement of your dreams, whether it’s frolicking on the beach, playing with the grandkids, volunteering, or starting a new business.
Live the life you want with intent, not by default. And above all, be happy.