Can you picture the following scene? “There is a beautiful beach, the sun is shining, the water is crystal clear, blue, and warm, and there you are in a lounge chair relaxing and drinking it all in.” For some people this is their idea of a perfect retirement, but is it really? Many people find that while leisure is a great part of being retired, it does not give them the purpose and meaning they need in their lives. We will get to this a little later because the first thing to find out is, “Can I afford to retire?” Unfortunately, many are continuing to work past the usual retirement dates because they simply do not have enough income without working. You may need to get some professional financial advice to help plan the money part of your retirement. There are many professional financial planning designations. An article in the March 23, 2012 issue of the AARP Magazine recommends using a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). It is worth your time to read the article to find out why. Retirement is also a good time to review your Will, Financial POA, Living Will, and Healthcare POA documents to be sure they reflect your retirement and post-retirement needs and goals. An elder law attorney’s knowledge of elder issues can help you avoid pitfalls with these documents.
Now, let’s come back to meaning and purpose. Retirement is a great time to develop and try out new interests. You can make you own personal “bucket list” and cross the items off as you do them. It is also a great time to do volunteer work. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, places of worship, and many non-profit organizations could not provide the services they do without volunteer help. If you are not sure about the volunteer opportunities available to you, contact RSVP of the Capital Region (www.rsvpcapreg.org, or phone them at 717-541-9521 or 1-800-870-2016). Another area some people pursue is education they did not have time for when they were working. Be sure to check if the educational program offers discounts for senior citizens. If you do not need the credits for a diploma or a degree program, you may find it less expensive to audit courses.
Finally, I received some very wise advice over thirty years ago that has stuck with me since I heard it. I was told that, when planning for retirement, a person needs to have or develop some interests for an active lifestyle as well as some interests for a sedentary lifestyle. This way if people later suffer a medical or functional decline that prohibits an active lifestyle, they still have the sedentary interests that are appealing to them. May you have a happy, long, and fulfilling retirement.
Elder Care Coordinator