Thứ Năm, 6 tháng 10, 2016

Make Plans for Your Healthy Retirement

Planning ahead during your working years is the best way to improve your chances for a healthy and happy retirement. Several studies have shown that those who participated in pre-retirement planning seminars were more likely to enjoy a healthy and happy retirement than similar employees who did not.
Healthy Retirement

In our pre-retirement planning seminars we emphasize both health and happiness, because we know that physical and mental health tend to interact with each other. Mental health and positive attitudes tend to maintain physical health, and vice versa.

Maintain Health during Middle Age

This is the single most important action you can take. It may seem obvious, but too many middle-aged persons often forget or ignore the fact that health must be maintained before retirement in order to enjoy it during retirement. There is a common saying among elders: "If I knew I were going to live so long, I would have taken much better care of myself."

As a reader of this newsletter, you know the basic rules of maintaining good health: eat a balanced diet low in fat and high in fiber; avoid obesity or emaciation; avoid tobacco, excessive alcohol, and addicting drugs; and perhaps most important, get regular aerobic and strengthening exercise. For me, choosing the best gym headphones is the first thing I do to enjoy my favorite songs anywhere I go.

Prepare Financially

This is the second most important factor. Without adequate income, you may not be able to afford the nutrition, housing, and medical care to maintain the levels of health and happiness you now enjoy.

Most executives are well able to prepare for financial security after retirement. But unpredictable inflation and an uncertain economy make it increasingly important to use good financial planning.

Recent tax laws make pension plans more attractive than ever as a result of high investment yields, tax benefits, and lower taxes. Pension plan savings are one of the most important investments you can make. The earlier you start, the greater the retirement assets because of the magic of compounding and tax-deferment: earning tax-deferred income on tax-deferred income.

Retire Gradually

Continue some part-time employment or activity for as long as it feels comfortable and satisfying. This can be financially rewarding, as well as helping to avoid the problems of boredom, uselessness, meaninglessness, and inactivity; all of which tend to impair mental and physical health.

A study of older self-employed people by Joseph F. Quinn, Ph.D., concluded that "abrupt retirement may be financially and psychologically damaging." He found that the degree of happiness for those partly retired and those working full-time was similar, but those who were completely retired tended to report that they were "not too happy."

Our analysis of seven longitudinal studies of retirement (examining people continuously over time) concluded that those who engaged in part-time employment after retirement tended to be healthier and happier than those who did not. Also the first Duke Longitudinal Study of Aging found that one of the strongest predictors of retirement health and longevity among men was continued satisfaction with employment, volunteering, or other productive activities.

I believe work satisfaction contributes to health and happiness by keeping retirees physically active, mentally stimulated, and socially involved. Part-time work allows this satisfaction to continue but still enables the executive to enjoy the major benefits of retirement: flexible schedules, more time with family, more time for rest, relaxation, travel, and hobbies.

Develop Interests

A major problem for many retired executives is that they were so absorbed in their work that they didn't have time to develop other interests or activities. When they retire, they have nothing to take the place of their work. All pre-retirees should develop interests and skills in four pairs of activities:
  1. Indoor and Outdoor.
It is healthy and enjoyable to have outdoor activities, but it is usually a mistake to plan only outdoor activities. Golfing and fishing are fine when the weather is good, but you need to have satisfying indoor activities for when the weather is bad.
  1. Individual and group.
Humans are social animals, and without normal social contacts retirees are likely to feel isolated, which is bad for mental and physical health. Considerable evidence now indicates that isolated persons are more subject to illness than those with good social support. One of our longitudinal studies found that group activities were a significant predictor of both healthy and happy retirement.

On the other hand, it is impractical to be with a group all the time and most retirees enjoy periods of solitude. Therefore, enjoyable solitary activities should also be developed.
  1. Physical and mental.
The importance of physical exercise cannot be over-emphasized for retired workers, because most have not taken enough time to exercise during their middle years. As a result, their cardiovascular system is often run down and they tend to be obese. The temptation in retirement is to become even less physically active, when physical exercise should actually be increased to compensate for the effects of aging. Without increased exercise, retired people are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

The body is like a machine which does not wear out with normal and regular use, but one which will certainly "rust out" with disuse. Bones, muscles, and organs all atrophy with disuse.

Mental activity is just as important as physical activity. Research has found that those who continue to stimulate their minds after retirement maintain intellectual abilities better than those who don't. The adage "Use it or lose it" is as true of the mind as the body.
Happy Retirement

  1. Useless and useful.
Most executives have a strong work ethic. Some are actually workaholics who have difficulty enjoying leisure activities. After retirement, this work ethic can produce feelings of uselessness, guilt, and depression unless some useful and productive activity is continued. Such activity can be paid or volunteer, managerial or non-managerial. The important thing is that the retiree views it as useful and satisfying.

But in retirement, it is usually impractical and undersireable to spend as much time in useful activities as before retirement. Therefore, it is equally important to develop and enjoy "useless" activities that have no obvious benefit to others, but are enjoyable simply for their intrinsic rewards. Enjoyment of music, art, literature, and travel are good examples of such activities.

Test New Locations

Many people move after retiring because they want a better climate, less pollution, lower taxes, lower crime rates, better facilities, and closeness to relatives or beautiful scenery. But many are disappointed because they find the advantages of the move don't outweigh the disadvantages.

The best way to avoid such disappointment is to study carefully a given location and then live there for a month or more before deciding to move permanently. Many retirement communities, condominiums, and apartments now have special plans whereby you can visit for an extended period before committing yourself permanently. There is nothing like an actual trial to find out whether you will like a new location or not.

Develop a Positive Attitude

Our research has shown that a positive attitude toward life is one of the strongest predictors of both longevity and happiness in retirement. Pessimism predicts depression in retirement and can lead to an earlier death.

One way to develop a positive attitude toward retirement is to concentrate on the advantages of retirement. It is reassuring to know that retirees tend to be:
  • more law-abiding
  • more politically active
  • more active in volunteering
Advantages of retirement to individuals include the fact that retirees:
  • are less often criminal victims
  • have fewer accidents in motor vehicles and in their homes
  • enjoy lower taxes
  • enjoy discounts on travel, prescriptions, entertainment, and meals
  • Have freedom from child rearing.
This list is not meant to deny the many problems that can occur in retirement. Rather, it is meant to counterbalance the preoccupation with the problems of retirement that is common among executives and others who have not yet enjoyed a healthy retirement.

To Sum up

Our research shows that retirees are not very different than working people: they generally maintain the same interests, activities, and relationships they enjoyed before retirement. It is important, therefore, to structure this new phase of life around the things and people that are the most rewarding to you now. By so doing, you can continue to enjoy life to the fullest.