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Thursday, 22 March 2001

Retirement Tips

Written by  Celia Berger

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Are you about to retire or are you considering retirement in the near future? This article provides suggestions, advice to all those people who face or will soon be facing retirement, so you can enjoy your retirement as much as possible. But we want to hear your comments and suggestions. How do you think retirement can be enhanced? Please send us your ideas and comments on retirement.

Let's start with an initial look at retirement.

A person might retire with wealth or limited means. Retirement might be premature, when a business closes, or retirement might entail a move to a foreign country. The retiree might or might not have academic or special interests, hobbies, a family framework, children and grandchildren. But everyone must prepare for retirement.

Most of us only plan for our working life, including education for a career, and setting professional goals, but retirement demands as much planning, if not more, than a career. Every stage in life must be addressed and one should try to gain satisfaction from each stage.

Ideally, preparation for retirement should start not later than age 59 for a woman and between 62 and 64 for a man. In today's world, people are living much longer, and they may have 20 to 25 vibrant years left.

Retirement can be a continuation of the old life; working on projects there was never time for before. It can also be perceived as a whole new life -- much more enjoyable than the old skin that was shed. But for this to happen, you must have some idea as to your goals.

Do you want to?

  • Obtain the degree you never managed to get?
  • Join a hiking club?
  • Travel to new countries?
  • Learn ballroom dancing, or even modern dance?
  • Learn to play the guitar or piano?
  • Help underprivileged children?
  • Become more active in your church or synagogue?
  • Master ceramics or chess?
  • Start a new business?

Do something you're passionate about! You're free to be yourself. As a youngster you might have pursued your parent's profession or gone into a family business and it probably stood you in good stead. But now you know yourself better and you know what interests you. You don't have to follow other people's dreams.

In the western world, children tend to live quite far away from their parents and therefore it is important to plan your retirement so that you don't have to rely on your family for everything. The retiree has to take responsibility for his or her health. To some extent, this means keeping as close to nature as possible. Walk wherever possible. You might also like to swim, bike, do aerobics. Folk dancing is also a fun activity. There are private health centers, community centers and schools that have gyms, exercise programs, pools, and a nice social group as well. And don't give up on sex.

People with fairly reasonable health sometimes develop health problems as soon as they are no longer employed and feel they have no purpose. The system becomes depressed, vulnerable. This might be avoided if retirees plan their new life and set goals for themselves. And this applies to both couples and singles.

You must make suitable financial arrangements as you approach retirement age. At this point, this column does not deal with financial matters but see our links to online services that do financial planning for seniors.

As you reach retirement age, you need to weigh housing options. Would you prefer to remain at home or move to a smaller place, perhaps a hotel apartment? Then if the need arises, you could employ someone to help you. There are also options of joining a retirement community or settling into a Golden Age Home, where there are extensive activities, and the possibility of meeting new people, often with similar backgrounds. One advantage of retirement homes is that long-term care is usually assured if the retiree becomes ill. And meals are provided, if so desired. The main advantage though, is companionship.

None of these options conflict with the possibilities of travel. You can go on tours or privately, with friends. You can join travel-study groups. You can even learn a new language and go to live in a foreign country to practice the language.

Although retirement can offer new opportunities, it is not only about "me, me, me." You can use this time help others out too. Give courses in areas of your expertise -- business, medical etc. Teaching could be on a volunteer basis, or for pay, as you wish. Once or twice a week you can instruct younger people wishing to improve themselves or older people seeking new knowledge. Put a lifetime of experience to the service of the future. This could also greatly enhance your sense of self. Alternatively, take up new forms of volunteer work in hospitals, schools, or charitable causes. Become a big brother or sister to a disadvantaged child.

There's also the exciting possibility of taking up political challenges. Become active in an area of interest: ecology, farmer's issues, women's rights, senior rights and lobby for the organization representing these issues.

The important point here is to plan your day, week and month, in addition to the usual household chores, so that you have something to look forward to.

We've tried to give you the lay of the land. In future articles, we hope to go into greater depth on many of the subjects discussed above; travel, study, retirement homes, volunteer work, new businesses, and more. But ultimately, it's your ideas we want to hear. We know there's more in heaven and earth than we've ever dreamed of.

Last modified on Thursday, 09 June 2011 10:17
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Celia Berger

Celia Berger is a retired businesswoman seeking new horizons. Writing and dancing are among her favorite hobbies.

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