What comes to mind when you think of the word retirement?
Sipping cocktails on cruise ships, spoiling and spending more time with grandchildren, gardening in the afternoons, unlimited golfing opportunities—this was the usual picture painted by people when they think of their retirement decades ago. Many of us still do, but thanks to multiple factors, retirees are now redefining what retirement means. Yes—pressing concerns, such as retirement funds and long term care options, are still present, but so many people are now kicking the old definition of retirement to the curb.
There is nothing wrong with putting your feet up and spending time enjoying the fruits of your labor. Take up hobbies. Travel around the world. After all, retirement means differently for everyone. However, a huge portion of retirees now is staying active in their chosen fields.
We have the older generations remaining in the workforce or exploring new passions. We find them joining new business ventures and switching career tracks. We used to see the 50s as the decade of winding down and preparing for retirement. Nowadays, people in their 50s are remaining steadfast and formidable forces in the workforce. The 50s are now the decade of second wind and they are not slowing down.
Longer life expectancy, improved health care, and increased awareness in living healthier lifestyles—these are just some of the reasons why the definition of retirement is being altered. Americans can now expect to live until their late 70s while a century ago, the average person only lived up to 47 years old.
While longevity is a feat that should be celebrated by everyone, not many people were prepared for it. This is why updating your retirement plan has become a must. While many of us are no longer caged by deadlines and 9-5 work shifts, we need to shift around and adjust a few aspects in our lives to keep up with the changing times.
#1 Update your funds for the extra years
First, let us start by going back to the previous statement where retirees are refusing to sit still and spend their golden years resting. This may be out of need or pure refusal to downtime, but seniors are remaining more active than ever.
While some are staying in their fields as veterans, there are those switching careers. They see this as a second chance to explore options and interests that were not available back in the day.
The great thing about this change is that the older generations get to have more years contributing to their savings. Instead of beginning to spend what they have saved, seniors have more years and more opportunities to increase their savings, especially when relying on Social Security benefits has become too risky.
If volunteering was not in your plan before, then this is your chance to make room for it. Serving the community benefits not just the community but the volunteers, as well. People who join volunteer programs are more connected with society. The sense of purpose it provides improves their mental health and quality of life.
There is a wide range of activities that individuals can choose from—babysitting for the couple next door or assisting at the local animal shelter. Communities offer volunteer programs that you can take part in.
#3 Improve your health and long term care coverage
Long term care and healthcare coverage should be staples in any person’s retirement plan, updated and otherwise. So many things are changing, from the retirement age to the activities you busy yourself with, but these plans are always permanent.
Longer lives could mean more sick years for some individuals, and with that comes a different set of financial problems that no one really had to deal with a few decades back. We have seniors finding themselves unable to pay for their long term care or their medical needs. We have older generations outliving their savings.
Make adjustments to the plans that you have. If you already have a working policy in place, then speak with your long term care agents about updating your plan. If you have not secured a policy, then speak with LTC insurance companies about possible options.
There is no handbook on how to successfully plan your retirement, but there are plenty of guides. What works for many may not work for you. If you prefer the traditional type of retirement and there are no repercussions, then do it. If you prefer the newer definition of it, then do not hold back.
No one understands your needs better than you do so plan accordingly. If you do need a break from working then take a break. Retirees are also enjoying mini retirement years where they step away from working once in awhile. Keep your health up and maintain an active lifestyle. Enjoy your golden years the way you want it, but be smart about it.
Violet Swenson is the Online Content Director at LTC Global Agency. She has thrived in the insurance and retirement field for several years. Her career revolved around helping people strategize for long term care and prepare for their golden years through insightful articles relating to long term care insurance, long term care, retirement and finance.