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What is retirement? Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely or a person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours. Traditionally, we have an image of retirement as sitting in a rocking chair on the porch. Modern day retirement living is more a transition to doing activities that you enjoy, whether that be work or leisure, but you just don’t get paid for it. Unfortunately, most of us are not financially prepared for retirement.

Many people choose to retire or stop employment when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don’t allow the person to work because of illness or accident.  The idea of retirement is fairly recent, being introduced during the 19th and 20th centuries. Previously, low life expectancy and the absence of pension arrangements meant that most workers continued to work until death. Now, life expectancy experts state that if you reach 65 you can expect another 18 years or so. Therefore you better be prepared. Who is dealing with it, what does that mean, where do I go, and how do I go about making the decision?

Many factors affect people’s retirement decisions.

  • Social Security clearly plays an important role. The current age to receive social security is 66-67, but you could draw early at a lower rate. Use the following web site to determine benefits – www.socialsecurity.gov
  • Pensions certainly play an important role. Greater financial wealth from all sources tends to lead to earlier retirement, since wealthier individuals can essentially “purchase” additional leisure. Use the following calculator (an example of many available) to help with your planning – http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/retirement
  • The financial crisis is affecting retirement decisions. Those that were not affected by the stock market decline are not likely to delay their retirement, but those that were will continue to work since their savings have been depleted. However, recent research estimates that mass layoffs are likely to lead to an increase in retirement almost 50% larger than the decrease brought about by the stock market crash. Many boomers at 62 who are layed off and/or fear that the current political climate of privatizing or stripping social security will “retire” early and collect their social security.
  • Health status has a major impact on retirement. It is widely found that individuals in poor health generally retire earlier than those in better health. In general, declining health over time as well as the onset of new health conditions, have been found to be positively related to earlier retirement.
  • Those that are married, a spouse’s employment status may affect one’s decision to retire. On average, husbands are three years older than their wives in the U.S., and spouses often coordinate their retirement decisions. Thus, men are more likely to retire if their wives are also retired than if they are still in the labor force, and vice versa.
  • The cost of health care in retirement is a significant issue, because people tend to be ill more frequently in later life. Many people retire before they become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and even with Medicare, chronic long-term illnesses are not covered and  become a financial burden to us.
  • On a personal level, the rising cost of living during retirement is also a serious concern to many older adults.

Therefore, we need to plan!

Retirement coincides with important life changes, such as re-location, changes in social network, chronic illness and loss of function, and adapting to a new lifestyle. Retired persons may travel more, take on parenting grandchildren and caregiving their parents or love ones. Often retirees volunteer for charities and other community organizations. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people that volunteer also help themselves by living longer and having a higher quality of life.

For some retirees, retirement living enables them to spend more time in a sport or hobby, while others become restless and suffer from depression as a result of the loss of work and meaning. Since retirement occurs with increasing age and getting older correlates with deterioration of one’s health, then you can understand how one associates depression with retirement. Studies, however, have shown that healthy elders are as happy or happier and have an equal quality of life as they age as compared to younger employed adults. Therefore retirement is not as strong an influence on depression as ill health, but still can contribute to the lack of meaning or self-worth.

Many people in the later years, due to chronic illnesses, require assistance to function in the home or sometimes in more protective environments such as assisted living or nursing homes. Those who have the finances and need some help, but are not in need of personal assistance, may choose to live in a retirement home or independent senior living community. Even though the home is most desirable, since that is what we are used to, community living can be more beneficial. Socialization and activities foster health and happiness.

In addition to financing retirement, health issues, finding meaning, housing, and choosing activities, another issue that needs to be taken into consideration is choosing a place to retire. When preparing to relocate, think about where your social relationships are, whether family or friends. Consider what the taxes are, the climate, work and recreational opportunities, cost of living, and the housing market or options.

Retirement living is complex. Planning for who you want to be, what you want and you can afford, where you want to be, and how it will occur are critical issues and should be given time to think through. If you plan on the who, what, where, and how then you will truly find that goal of “adding life to years”.

Retirement Living: The Who, What, Where, and How

What is retirement? Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely or a person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours. Traditionally, we have an image of retirement as sitting in a rocking chair on the porch. Modern day retirement living is more a transition to doing activities that you enjoy, whether that be work or leisure, but you just don’t get paid for it. Unfortunately, most of us are not financially prepared for retirement.

Many people choose to retire or stop employment when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don’t allow the person to work because of illness or accident.  The idea of retirement is fairly recent, being introduced during the 19th and 20th centuries. Previously, low life expectancy and the absence of pension arrangements meant that most workers continued to work until death. Now, life expectancy experts state that if you reach 65 you can expect another 18 years or so. Therefore you better be prepared. Who is dealing with it, what does that mean, where do I go, and how do I go about making the decision?

Many factors affect people’s retirement decisions.

  • Social Security clearly plays an important role. The current age to receive social security is 66-67, but you could draw early at a lower rate. Use the following web site to determine benefits – www.socialsecurity.gov
  • Pensions certainly play an important role. Greater financial wealth from all sources tends to lead to earlier retirement, since wealthier individuals can essentially “purchase” additional leisure. Use the following calculator (an example of many available) to help with your planning – http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/retirement
  • The financial crisis is affecting retirement decisions. Those that were not affected by the stock market decline are not likely to delay their retirement, but those that were will continue to work since their savings have been depleted. However, recent research estimates that mass layoffs are likely to lead to an increase in retirement almost 50% larger than the decrease brought about by the stock market crash. Many boomers at 62 who are layed off and/or fear that the current political climate of privatizing or stripping social security will “retire” early and collect their social security.
  • Health status has a major impact on retirement. It is widely found that individuals in poor health generally retire earlier than those in better health. In general, declining health over time as well as the onset of new health conditions, have been found to be positively related to earlier retirement.
  • Those that are married, a spouse’s employment status may affect one’s decision to retire. On average, husbands are three years older than their wives in the U.S., and spouses often coordinate their retirement decisions. Thus, men are more likely to retire if their wives are also retired than if they are still in the labor force, and vice versa.
  • The cost of health care in retirement is a significant issue, because people tend to be ill more frequently in later life. Many people retire before they become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and even with Medicare, chronic long-term illnesses are not covered and  become a financial burden to us.
  • On a personal level, the rising cost of living during retirement is also a serious concern to many older adults.

Therefore, we need to plan!

Retirement coincides with important life changes, such as re-location, changes in social network, chronic illness and loss of function, and adapting to a new lifestyle. Retired persons may travel more, take on parenting grandchildren and caregiving their parents or love ones. Often retirees volunteer for charities and other community organizations. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people that volunteer also help themselves by living longer and having a higher quality of life.

For some retirees, retirement living enables them to spend more time in a sport or hobby, while others become restless and suffer from depression as a result of the loss of work and meaning. Since retirement occurs with increasing age and getting older correlates with deterioration of one’s health, then you can understand how one associates depression with retirement. Studies, however, have shown that healthy elders are as happy or happier and have an equal quality of life as they age as compared to younger employed adults. Therefore retirement is not as strong an influence on depression as ill health, but still can contribute to the lack of meaning or self-worth.

Many people in the later years, due to chronic illnesses, require assistance to function in the home or sometimes in more protective environments such as assisted living or nursing homes. Those who have the finances and need some help, but are not in need of personal assistance, may choose to live in a retirement home or independent senior living community. Even though the home is most desirable, since that is what we are used to, community living can be more beneficial. Socialization and activities foster health and happiness.

In addition to financing retirement, health issues, finding meaning, housing, and choosing activities, another issue that needs to be taken into consideration is choosing a place to retire. When preparing to relocate, think about where your social relationships are, whether family or friends. Consider what the taxes are, the climate, work and recreational opportunities, cost of living, and the housing market or options.

Retirement living is complex. Planning for who you want to be, what you want and you can afford, where you want to be, and how it will occur are critical issues and should be given time to think through. If you plan on the who, what, where, and how then you will truly find that goal of “adding life to years”.

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