When the topic of retirement comes up, most people tend to focus on two questions: “When can I retire?” and “How much money will I need to retire?”
But ask any retiree, and they will tell you that those questions are only part of the story. The key to a fulfilling retirement is not how to fund it, rather “How do I want to spend my time?”
Like any major life transition, retirement is a time of shifting priorities that requires planning. And how you spend all that newfound free time can make a big difference in your health and quality of life. With that in mind, here’s how to create your retirement vision and make the most of your post-working years.
How will I spend my time after retirement?
Retirement lifestyles vary. Some retirees are snowbirds who go south for the winter. Others stay close to family, particularly grandchildren. Their time is filled with babysitting, hobbies, volunteering and perhaps travelling once or twice a year.
Regardless of your interests, research shows that retired people who stay active with planned activities and events tend to be more content than those who don’t. It also suggests that people who invest in their social or psychological portfolio before retirement are more likely to reap the benefits later.
What is Retirement Lifestyle Planning?
Retirement Lifestyle Planning is really the concept that retirement is about more than money. Lifestyle planning is about determining how you want to live as you age and focuses on creating a balance – one that enhances your quality of life. Lifestyle considerations include:
- relationships to family and friends
- mental and physical health
- community and volunteer involvement
- leisure activities, including travel
- mobility, transportation, and age-appropriate housing.
Your lifestyle has developed over time and is based personal or shared values and experiences. That’s why a complete retirement plan must encompass all areas of your life.
1. Create a Schedule
Studies have shown that a structured life is one of the keys to happiness. Prior to retirement, work and family obligations create their own schedule and structure. When you retire, your days and evenings are now filled with leisure time. While you may find this novel and a bit exciting at first, you may want to define some specific routines to maintain order and structure down the road.
2. Health and Fitness
Staying in good physical shape in retirement can help you enjoy the type of lifestyle you desire for longer. And maintaining a moderate level of activity in retirement is easier when it’s a part of your regular routine. Exercise and nutrition are key areas to address early.
3. Social Relationships
The experts agree – building and maintaining social relationships over your lifetime can keep your mind sharp. Friends give our lives meaning, comfort, and joy. They help prevent loneliness and isolation. After retirement, our work-related relationships begin to disappear, and new relationships need to be created.
4. Hobbies and Activities
Leisure time activities are a big contributor to fulfilment and personal satisfaction. In fact, studies show that boredom and a lack of cognitive stimulation can contribute to depression and anxiety. Retirement is a fantastic opportunity to explore interests that took a back burner to work and raising a family.
5. Lifelong Learning
The brain is “plastic” and can continue to grow, develop, and make connections from before we are born until well into old age. When you challenge your brain with new and effortful activity, you help to build your “cognitive reserve”. Simply put, learning in your senior years supports healthy aging.
Often confused with religion, spirituality really refers to your sense of who you are and why you are here. Your view of the world flows directly from the values that you hold and the primary purpose of your life. What is it that gets you up in the morning and helps you feel supported through the tough times?
7. Mental and Emotional Health
Retirement has its challenges, but with careful planning and some gradual adjustments, it can also be the time of your life. To make the ‘sugar rush of retirement’ last, pro-actively prepare emotionally for retirement. Protect your mental health by planning how you will stay involved in your community or spend more time with family and friends. This may mean seeking out new activities or groups of people with similar interests.
8. Location, location, location
There are many pros and cons to moving after retirement and you need to consider them all before deciding whether relocating in the autumn of your life is right for you. Remember, your home is not only your house but also your community.
If you are nearing retirement, individuals and families need to thoughtfully consider what sort of lifestyle they wish to maintain. By taking the time to explore all these topics in depth, you can make retirement the best years of your life.
Research the Best Places to Retire and Go There
Moving to a retirement community is an investment in your future. It can surround you with active, like-minded people, provide you with an array of activities to choose from, and there’s less home maintenance, too. Elderly adults can cherish a space that is truly their own, develop meaningful relationships, and then age-in-place if needed.
With retirement residences in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, we serve seniors across Canada. Our retirement residences are focused on delivering stress-free, independent senior living, top-quality care, active lifestyles, and a superior dining experience. If you want to learn more, give us a call and ask about living in our retirement residences. For a better retirement, find out about our senior housing options.
The most important consideration when choosing a senior living community is the way it makes you feel – like you are home.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.