By Debra A. Perry
So, you’ve taken the leap and have retired. No more 12-hour days of getting up at 6 AM and getting home at 6 PM (if you were so lucky!). You now have a full day to do whatever you want. Gosh, I bet you didn’t realize there were so many hours in the day! So, in the beginning phase of retirement, you catch up on all those tasks that have been on your honey-do list. In my experience, that takes about a month to do. Then, there are all those things around the house that you’ve wanted to fix up. That too, takes about a month to do. Then, suddenly, you find yourself caught up with everything, and you have all this time on your hands. So, you start watching the television. Before you know it, you sit on the couch the whole day, and it’s time for dinner. And, the next day becomes a repeat. Sure, some days you will have an appointment, so you go to the appointment and go out to lunch, maybe meet some friends, but before long, you realize you are sleeping in, watching TV, gaining weight, going to bed late, and life is passing you by like a television rerun.
Now is the time to start enjoying your retirement! Think of all the things you’ve always wanted to do, to make, to see, and write yourself a list. Once your list is complete, make a plan to accomplish those things. Make it a priority to not sleep in; instead, get up and take a walk or go to the gym. Do an exercise activity that you enjoy, as it’s really important to keep up your health at this stage of your life. This is also a great time to start a hobby. An individual hobby such as golfing, sewing, quilting, making stained glass creations, working out at the gym, is so helpful to pass the day. Furthermore, consider group hobbies, such as golfing, horseback riding, tennis, bocce ball, cards, dice, and so on is a definite plus for the retiree. Also consider joining some groups. Join a breakfast and/or lunch club, Bunco group, card club, church group, golfing league, weight loss support group, and so on. Another idea is for you to volunteer! So many community organizations and business establishments are looking for volunteers. All of these ideas will also aid in your socialization skills, which is so important since you no longer go to work and work with other people. Before you know it, your day will be completely full with activities, spending time with friends and family, and you’ll wonder where the day went as it is time for dinner! My advice to you if you are retired and the days become a rerun … make that list now and then devise a plan to fulfill it.
Finally, I can’t stress the importance of family during your retirement phase. This is the ideal time to spend time with your grown children and grandchildren. If you haven’t already done so, this is a good time to move near your grown children. As we all get older, accidents can happen, and you will need someone to be able to help you at a moment’s notice. In fact, “falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans” (www.cdc.gov). You may even find yourself unable to drive. You will need your family more than ever if this happens to you.
Additionally, be the retiree parent who gives advice and assistance. Help run errands when your grown kids are at work and can’t take time off to accomplish something. Volunteer to pick up the grandkids on half days … and there’s so many of them here in the Vail School District! On holidays, make it a point to get together and have a BBQ, dinner, or outing. In fact, invite the family over to your house and give mom a break from doing everything. Over time, as the retiree gets older, time will seem to stand still. The grandkids will become adults, the days will get longer, and you’ll find yourself staying home more. Time may begin to be your enemy. And, undoubtedly, you will begin to rely on your grown children now more than ever. This is the ideal time to get you connected electronically. Get a computer, get on the Internet, get an email account and use social media. Get a Facebook account and make friends with your family, friends, and social groups you belong to. Additionally, it’s a must that you keep your grown kids in the loop regarding your finances. As we all know, everything just keeps going up in price and that Social Security check isn’t keeping pace. Hopefully, your grown children will be there to help you financially, if needed. It is also important to have a Will and important documents completed to let everyone know your wishes for the end of your life. We never know when our time is up, and it’s best for all involved to be prepared so the end won’t become a burden. In closing, my advice to retirees is to include your family in as many life events as you can, as it will be family who is going to be there for you until the end.
This article was intended to make you think about retirement and how to posture yourself for the upcoming, if not present, retirement phase of your life. There are many professional retirement advisors who can help you plan for your future. Your family should also be an important part of any retirement discussion. I’m sure there’s more to it that I’m not listing. Good luck!