Senior Center

Looking Forward to Retirement

By Jan Bolder - December 27, 2013

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For many boomers, while retirement may not be the "Freedom 55" it was once advertised as, it's still a period in their lives they look forward to. But how many have considered these 5 crucial areas of retirement?

1. Finances: One of the main questions on the minds of boomers is if they've saved up enough to live comfortably for the next 10-20 years. The old thinking was that you'd need at least $1 million in savings, but that number is rapidly falling by the wayside, especially once you factor in gradually declining health and rising healthcare costs. A good rule of thumb to use is plan to live on at least 70% of your income, but plan for more in case of bumps in the road, inflation or if you'll be retiring solo. However, the unfortunate truth for many Americans is they'll be forced to keep working longer than they'd planned just so they can keep afloat.

2. Identity: The majority of retirees (with the exception of those who hated their careers) have built a large portion of their identity from their jobs, having done it for so many decades. And with retirement meaning a sudden yank away, the loss of this identity can be tough to handle. Give yourself time to grieve, keep yourelf busy with volunteering or traveling, or phase in your retirement gradually.

3. Boredom: At work, you had structure, discipline, routine, people to talk to, office parties to attend, and people who relied on you. That's gone on retirement. And while the sudden change to sleeping in and golfing constantly is nice, the novelty wears off pretty quickly, leaving a lot of people feeling unmoored. Change that by getting up and dressed at the same time each day, keeping yourself needed by volunteering, and mastering a new skill every 6 or 12 months.

4. Relationships: Non-retired employees have an edge for two reasons- their work gives them a lot to talk about, making them interesting to others; and it's easy to maintain relationships when you see the same people every day. But retired people suddenly have to work a lot harder at keeping ties strong. And yes, it'll feel like work sometimes, especially if your friends work, begin to die, or if you move away upon retirement. Humans are social creatures, though, and it's our relationships with others that keeps us strong and moving forward. Make the effort, even if you don't feel like it.

5. Health: Depending on the survey, anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of boomers fear health issues upon retirement. Their bodies are slowly breaking down and are unable to bounce back with the same vigor from youth, and healthcare is a real concern- physically and financially. However, Medicaid eligibility starts when you turn 65, so sign up right away (even if you don't think you'll need it) to avoid being taxed a 10% premium fee for late enrollment. And keep pushing yourself to stay active. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to start running marathons (although that is a great way to keep in shape), but don't let yourself slack off and risk injury.