I’ve most likely spoken to you before about the importance of a very planned approach to retirement. Having a healthy pension fund is what springs to mind for all of us in this regard – of course this is very important, as having access to financial resources will help you to ensure that you can enjoy your retirement and live it on your own terms.
But it’s not only about money. Money may be an enabler of the lifestyle that you choose. But you have to first of all do some thinking about what that lifestyle actually looks like! Who are the people that will be around you, where will you live, how will you fill your days, will you continue to work etc.? All of these are important questions that require careful consideration.
We recently came across The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which is a large scale, nationally representative, long-term study on ageing in Ireland. It collects information from adults aged 50 years and over resident in Ireland and is one of the most comprehensive research studies of its kind both in Europe and internationally. TILDA’s Vision is to make Ireland ‘the best place in the world to grow old’ by studying the health, wealth and quality of life aspects of ageing. We thought this research was definitely worth sharing with you.
Four waves of research with over 8,000 people have been completed since the launch of the study in 2006. So what can we learn from TILDA to help us live a more fulfilled life in retirement? The findings of course refer to “normal” life circumstances as opposed to the current, temporary restrictions.
Retirement is not the end
Quality of life peaks at age 68 – this is when life is at its best! TILDA found that people aged 80 enjoy a similar quality of life as people aged 50. It’s only from age 80 onwards that quality of life starts to decrease. So if you’re 60 today and retirement is on your horizon, you haven’t even reached your peak! The next 20 years should be great ones, so start thinking about how you can make that quality of life a reality.
Social participation is really important
Increased social integration, through maintaining a larger social network and positive supportive relationships with friends, is associated with higher quality of life. Similarly volunteering and participating in both active and social leisure activities lead to happier lives as you get older. So keep participating in your golf, bridge or amateur dramatics. Even if you are physically less able to participate fully in sports, keep up your club memberships where you can for the social interactions that you’ve enjoyed for many years.
Your living conditions are important
Independent living is an important goal for many people as they age, you want to stay at home. The condition of your home plays an important role in this. As your finances allow, make your home as easy and comfortable as possible to live in. For example, keeping your house warm has a big impact on your quality of life. It can be too easy to “let the house go” a bit. If your adult children suggest that it needs a lick or paint or carpets need to be replaced, listen to them. Where you can afford it, be willing to spend your hard-earned money to make your life more comfortable.
Stay strong and fit
Give yourself every chance for a long and happy life. Start or continue exercising today, and then keep it up! It will pay off in the long run. Frailty is a common condition in Ireland but is not inevitable and can be avoided, delayed and even reversed. The keys to this are staying active, avoiding falls, staying socially engaged and good nutrition.
There’s loads more brilliant content that is relevant to life over age 50 at TILDA. Simple changes in both your actions and outlook can go a long way. When you add to this our advice to help you with your financial outlook in retirement, you stand every chance of your later years indeed being your golden years.