At one time, retirement was a fairly standardized affair. An employee reached a minimum number of years with a company or a maximum age to which he was allowed to work, signed some papers in the Human Resources office, dropped by the local Social Security Office, was awarded—ironically—a watch, stopped setting his alarm clock and was officially “retired.” Unfortunately, times have changed. For many reasons, retirement now takes place at a later age and financial considerations play a large part in when or even if an employee can truly retire from all employment. Here are some topics the experts tell us to evaluate carefully:
Average life expectancy for both men and women has increased dramatically since Social Security Retirement benefits first started in 1937. According to the Social Security Administration life expectancy data, “a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 83″ while “a woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 85.” Retirement, even early at age 55, once meant perhaps ten to 15 years of life expectancy. Now, at the later age of 65, retirees are expected—on average—to live another 20 years before they die. While this is wonderful news, it also means workers have to ensure that their retirement benefits and savings can sustain them for decades now as opposed to only a few years.
Many elderly individuals either depended upon the physical requirements of their employment to count as their exercise or never adopted the habit of physical exercise outside of household chores. Whether one chooses to walk a mile a day at the local mall, join the local YMCA or pick-up a part-time job delivering prescriptions for a pharmacy, continued physical—and mental—activity is one of the keys to staying healthy, avoiding obesity, maintaining strong bones and staying physically strong.
Even if an individual is lucky enough to retire early at age 55, he won’t be eligible for Medicare health insurance until age 65, except for special situations. Many elderly people cannot afford to pay the full expense of the medical insurance provided under their former employers. An individual retiring before age 65 may need to obtain a temporary health insurance policy to cover health-related expenses until his Medicare coverage begins.
It’s no secret that individuals with few interests outside of work fare worse psychologically and physically after retirement than people who have full and active social lives. Social isolation and loneliness can lead to depression and exacerbate existing health problems. Suggested activities to avoid this situation include volunteering at organizations important to the individual, working a part-time job and meeting friends regularly for meals or walks. Even pets count as positive companionship. Consider adopting a shelter dog if your health and living arrangements allow it.
Not only will maintaining a healthy lifestyle make you feel physically and psychologically better, it will also save you money by preventing disease, accidents, expenditures for medicines and costs for medical treatment.
Keeping these five simple aspects of retirement in mind and designing one’s superannuation to meet needs in these areas can greatly improve a retiree’s quality of life, extend longevity, improve health and save money.