In today’s busy world, it is easy to put off thinking about retiring, which is exactly what many people do. Unfortunately, hard work and living a good life do not always guarantee a happy retirement. So, what does it take to ensure the golden years are actually golden? While experts disagree on the finer points, most concur that careful planning and good health are essential first steps. The happiest seniors also enjoy relationships with friends and family and feel that their lives still have a purpose.
1. Planning Is Essential for a Sunny Future
It is easy for middle-aged people to slip into magical thinking about their happy retirement years. Most are putting money in a retirement account, and have social security benefits, so what could go wrong? In fact, millions of retirees find themselves in situations they never imagined. Fortunately, thoughtful planning can create a cushion that shields seniors from much of the unexpected.
For example, financial planning that guarantees the elderly have enough money to cover expenses minimizes stress. Retirees may also want to jettison some responsibilities. For example, many eliminate dozens of problems by selling larger properties and downsizing. Seniors can easily do Internet searches like “retirement communities near me” and find a list of alternative living arrangements. Healthy, robust people over 65 frequently move into managed communities and spend their retirement, enjoying life without worrying about property upkeep.
2. Good Health Is a Key to Well-Being
According to professionals at Aging.com, happy senior citizens tend to be healthier in retirement. Happy people are more likely to exercise and generally stay active. The reverse is also true. When the elderly are vigorous and engaged, they feel better and have a better outlook on life.
According to University of California Professor Howard Friedman, genes contribute only one-third toward longevity. Seniors are responsible for the rest, and exercise plays a big part. Even people who rarely exercised through life can begin when they are older and still get fit. Some of the things routine exercise can do are stave off illness, keep seniors mobile, control weight, and strengthen the immune system. All-around good nutrition and doctor-recommended supplements also help contribute to a healthy, happy, and active retirement.
3. A Sense of Community Is Crucial
While financial security is critical to a secure retirement, studies show that the elderly feel relationships with those close to them are more important than financial concerns. The National Council on Aging reports that 53% of seniors queried in one study said connectedness is critical to their happiness. Among those who said it was important to be near friends and family, a mere 15% said they occasionally felt isolated. Over 80% of older respondents mentioned that technology helps them stay connected to the surrounding world.
4. Seniors Need a Reason to Get up Each Day
Ironically, millions of retirees who spend decades pining for days of non-stop leisure become unhappy after a few months of living their idealized lifestyles. Many do not realize the value of the social interactions they enjoyed at work each day.
The most fulfilled retirees join social groups like book clubs or make shopping dates-; many are volunteers. No matter how they interact with others, social seniors get mental and health benefits. The happiest elders also have a strong sense of purpose that gives them a reason to get up and look forward to each day. Whether they are involved in wide-ranging projects or enjoy something as simple as babysitting, living with purpose is good for seniors.
It takes planning and management to ensure a happy retirement, which often begins with careful financial arrangements. However, money doesn’t guarantee happiness. Happy retirees also need good health, a community of friends and family, and a strong sense of purpose.