"Forced retirement is the term used to describe employer driven job loss forcing older workers to leave earlier (either retire or find another job) than they would otherwise choose. Three conditions must exist, the company wants you gone, leaving is not your preferred choice, and your age is over 40."
After considerable research, I realized there is confusion understanding what is forced retirement. The first misconception is that a company can actually force an employee to retire. This is completely false! Actually, the term reflects employer driven involuntary job loss for those approaching their planned age to retire. Typically, this is between the ages of 50 and 65.
Mandatory retirement might be thought of as being regulated when the worker doesn’t want their career to end. However, this only occurs in select occupations where a mandatory age has been set, often for safety reasons. Examples include air traffic controllers, airline pilots, law enforcement and firefighters. For individuals in these occupations, they are well aware of the age limitation of their career and may choose to retire or pursue other opportunities. For instance, many law enforcement officers migrate into security as a second career.
You may have heard the expression “I was pushed to retire due to health reasons”. Unfortunately, failing health and disease strike many as they age and are approaching those golden years. Whether it’s themselves or their partner, it may simply no longer be worth continuing to work. While health related issues are certainly not anyone’s choice, it can be the catalyst to leave. It only becomes forced or involuntary when the company decides it’s time to part ways.
For all of us baby boomers, our parents and grandparents typically worked for the same organization for many years. Thirty to forty years were commonplace as they steadily contributed to their pensions. Their crowning achievement occurred on their 65th birthday with a company sponsored celebration. History of Retirement provides greater insights into how it has changed.
Mandatory retirement was abolished in 1986. At about this time, downsizing became a popular corporate practice as a means to increase profitability and shareholder return. This was the beginning of cutbacks as we know them today with older workers the ones most frequently dismissed. Also, this was when employer sponsored pension plans began to shift to employee administrated 401K's.
Age discrimination (ageism) really comes down to biases against the older generation. Discrimination comes in many forms whether it is rooted in gender, race, age, or religion. The difference, of course, is that it occurs after a certain age. In spite of legislation, ageism is all around us and almost impossible to change because it's based on preconceived notions.
So how have these attitudes developed? Primarily through social conditioning and experiences throughout life. Think back to when you were younger, full of ideas, and wanting to get ahead in the organization. For many of us, our way was thwarted by those with more seniority and experience. That was how it was back then, yet today we recognize that same desire to get ahead with a cruel twist. While we patiently waited our turn, the younger generations have leap frogged ahead of us into management positions. Now, they wield the axes and are intent on pruning dead branches.
We live in an age of consumerism where it's cheaper to buy a new product, such as a television, than repair the old one. Undoubtedly, there’ll be ones with newer features and a price tag that's the same or even lower. In short, we have become a disposable society. Younger less experienced workers reduce costs, while older workers command higher salaries. When work can be outsourced, this promotes even greater savings. The underlying theme has become “out with the old and in with the new”.
Almost everyone knows of some “almost retired” employee doing as little as possible. They appear to be counting down the days. In fairness, some of these individuals have dedicated 10, 20, or more years of their life to the company. Their story might be they feel undervalued, taken for granted, and their career is dead ended. Perhaps they were demoted or passed over for promotion time after time until they finally gave up. Can you fault them for not feeling motivated and giving their all?
It’s human nature to resist change, especially when everything seems out of your control. Your boss might be only half your age with hardly any experience, yet telling you what to do. Instead of the “tried and true” methods, now corners are being cut or make work projects created. Under such conditions, various labels can be affixed such as stubborn, unwilling to adapt, difficult to work with, or a host of other demeaning terms.
The naked truth is all you have control over is yourself. Having stated the obvious, you have the ability to influence others perceptions of yourself. Instead of allowing yourself to become tarnished with all those age-related stereotypes, focus on providing immense value to the organization. Create a “personal brand” where you are the go-to person and the subject matter expert.
To achieve this requires a collaborative spirit and desire to help others. A win-win approach with your boss where your performance is exemplary and you become the de-facto person tackling new projects. Words of wisdom my father shared with me many years ago were that “when you go to work, work like you mean it”. Besides working hard, you’ll want to work smart. This approach also opens the doors for advancement and new opportunities.
Keep yourself current by taking courses and attending any conferences you can. Is there an opportunity to do a “Lunch and learn” session to share your knowledge with co-workers? If you can write and post valuable content (such as on LinkedIn), others within and outside of your organization will recognize your expertise. Networking becomes a means of job security increasing your marketability within your industry. “Bulletproof your future and avoid forced retirement” provides more guidance on creating your personal brand.
First and foremost, it’s devastating when you are in your mid 50's and lose your job. Very few people have saved enough to retire and it becomes increasing difficult to find decent employment. Numerous accounts reveal people with extended job searches taking one to two years. Their savings dwindle, homes are lost, and crushing debt is incurred.
The problem is far more widespread than most of us are aware. ProPublica reports that over half of all older Americans will be forced out of their job at least once. Moreover, only one in ten will ever earn as much as they previously had. In addition, it’s estimated that almost half of all potential retirees have no savings at all!
Social security is already straining at the seams with projections that trust funds will be exhausted by 2037. Rising healthcare costs and increased longevity do not paint a rosy picture for many. Baby Boomer Facts and the Retirement Crisis documents the perilous financial outlook we all face.
Involuntary job loss is a form of age discrimination (also referred to as ageism) which violates federal and state legislation. This is illegal and charges can be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, it can be challenging to prove as it must be clearly shown that age was the primary factor.
Recently the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act as reported by CNBC Markets. With stronger legislation and growing awareness, there’s hope this trend will decline.
There are three factors that determine what is forced retirement. These consist of employer intent to remove the employee, the preference of the individual to retain their job, and their age is 40 years or greater.
Combating ageism requires providing such incredible value that the organization cannot afford to lose you. This means becoming a stellar employee doing your job with excellence and expertise. Rather than being labeled by age, your personal brand becomes one of high competence and team contributions. Career security is further enhanced by networking within your company and the industry.
As you approach retirement, think of your career as an airplane on the final approach. This is one of the most dangerous parts (besides take-off) of the entire flight. Unlike the airline industry with a pretty good safety record, over half of people at this stage in life will crash and burn! You can prevent or, at least, minimize the damage with a strong personal brand and a back-up plan.
The practice of eliminating older American workers has become widespread. According to ProPublica and the Urban Institute, 56% of employees over the age of 50 experience job loss before they were willing to retire. In addition to taking months to find a new employer, about a third of these people will lose their next job. Even more alarming is that only 10% will ever find a job with comparable pay!
Expanding upon Investopedia’s definition above, think of forced retirement as an involuntary separation that wouldn’t be your preferred choice. For example, the company might sugar coat separation offers to incent select employees to leave. It’s not really voluntary if you believe they will get rid of you later, with little or nothing. Unfortunately, some organizations target older employees and have decided it is time to part ways.
Mandatory retirement based on age is illegal except in certain select professions (such as airline pilots or military personnel). Thus, companies cannot force you out just because of your age. Instead, they are more creative offering incentives or downsizing through lay-offs, cutbacks, and shutdowns.
The corporate mantra seems to be “Do more with less”. The goal is to increase profitability by reducing costs. Everyday we hear of layoffs, outsourcing, and shutdowns. While this impacts the entire labor force; it particularly hurts older workers who will find it more difficult to obtain new employment.
As a rather crude analogy, let’s say your company operates a fleet of delivery vehicles. As they reach a certain mileage or age, they are replaced. This makes good business sense as it decreases operational expenses. Management further determines that they’ll save even more if they contract out delivery service. Now, they have eliminated all those expensive vehicles and drivers. Sadly, a lot of companies focus on the dollars and cents, rather than on quality and customer service. In management’s eyes, older workers are seen as more expensive and less productive than their younger counter parts. While this is ageism, it’s justified as necessary to remain competitive and cost effective.
At this point, you probably realize you need to think about upping your game. Your professional reputation is your personal brand and determines how others think of you. This includes your boss, management, co-workers, customers, suppliers, and even other people throughout your industry. The fundamental reason for creating an awesome personal brand is for job security either with your existing employer or for future opportunities.
When you were first hired, you were likely thought of as a go-getter. You had a positive attitude, probably got to work early, and tackled whatever challenges were thrown your way. So, after all these years how are you perceived today? The best way to find out is to ask those you trust for constructive criticism and how you can improve. For most of us, this can be a little humbling and bruise our self-perception. Try to set your feelings aside and strive for open honest communications.
To be candid, there are lots of people out there doing uninspiring jobs they could almost do in their sleep. It’s pretty hard to get fired up doing the same thing day after day. They’re probably highly competent and believe they are valued employees. They might even assume they have job security and will remain employed until they retire. Unbeknownst to them, the company may be planning layoffs and their heads will soon be on the chopping block. Not a good position to be in! What are some of the things you can do to bulletproof your job?
It’s up to you to manage your relationship with your boss. Accept you’re not going to change them and then adapt to their management style. Pay close attention to the things important to them and deliver in spades. Strive for open communication and become the “can do” person.
It might sound counter-intuitive to state that your job is to make your boss look good. After all, this is supposed to be about your brand and no one wants to appear to be “brown nosing”. This can be a fine line that you need to manage. It becomes even more difficult when you have a bad boss. To be successful, somehow you need to create a win-win relationship. It doesn’t mean giving up credit for your contributions, rather finding a way that also allows him/her to look good. They need you as much as you need them and you want them as your ally (not your enemy).
When it’s time for your year-end review, present your story of accomplishments and how they add value to the organization. Hopefully, your boss has been aware and is supportive of all your endeavors. Any praise or recognition received is also powerful.
Being considered a team player is a vital part of your professional reputation. If you tend to be a loner, make the effort to interact more. Start going for coffee or lunch with the people you work with. Be genuine and show you’re approachable, supportive, and willing to help others. Be part of the team and contribute to the group.
While this may sound basic and even common sense, almost all of us could improve our effective listening and conversation skills. It’s often said that we have two ears and only one mouth. Many people tend to listen with the intent to respond as quickly as they can. Often, they don’t have the patience to even hear out what someone is trying to say. They interrupt and throw in their two cents worth. At times, they can be downright rude and disrespectful. Some examples include:
Politicians might get away with bald-faced lies, back stabbing, and never following through with anything however that should not be your mantra. Follow your moral compass and rise above any such inappropriate behaviors that compromise your integrity.
Okay, it’s time to take things to the next level with networking. You may have heard the term your reputation precedes you. Probably, you’d be surprised how many people are aware of or may have heard something about you. That can be either a good or a bad thing. If a prospective employer Googles you, what will they find? Hopefully, not pictures of a drunken weekend.
Attending company functions and events are a good way to enhance your brand. It shows you are engaged and provides the opportunity to meet people from different departments. If your organization supports a charitable event, volunteer and get involved. Can you attend any conferences or trade-shows? These can keep you abreast of technology while meeting others in your industry.
If you have a flair for writing or are willing to give it a shot, write about something in your field of expertise. Possibly on a product, service, or process your company might put on their website. If you learned something at a conference or trade show, document it. Publish it on LinkedIn to share your knowledge. This can elevate your value within the organization.
Keep your profile current on LinkedIn and continue to add contacts to your network. Join any groups or associations related to your field. Another good option is to contribute on Quora, a question and answer website. Develop a reputation for helping others.
The million-dollar question is how secure do you feel with your current employer? Even with your enhanced personal brand, there might be signs that you are a prime candidate to be the next victim. Dealing with forced retirement goes into greater detail on some of these signs and how to cope with dismissal. It’s a whole lot easier to be proactive than picking up the pieces later.
Realistically, does your current employer value your skills and expertise? If not, perhaps it makes sense to upgrade to a new position. For example, they could be hiring in project management, safety, or quality control. If this is something that interests you, they could be supportive of your endeavors.
If the writing is on the wall and your options are limited, you need a different strategy. It’s a lot easier to get a new job while you are still working. Either, it’s time to start circulating your resume or consider upgrading.
For those with more of an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a business on the side could be the ticket. Now that the kids have grown up and moved out, you have more time and space. It has never been so easy to set-up a website and many options to make money on-line. Plus, you will have the satisfaction of working for yourself and never reporting to a boss again.
The only way to avoid forced retirement is to provide such value to your organization they can’t afford to lose you. While a strong personal brand strategy reinforces your worth, it still doesn’t guarantee your employment. Everyday companies restructure, outsource, and downsize to reduce costs. The worst thing is to appear like you already have lowered your landing gear in preparation of gliding until you retire.
Those final years of saving are immensely important. In the event things go sideways, a robust professional reputation positions you to recover more quickly. With an expansive network of contacts, finding your next employment opportunity becomes much easier.
You probably never dreamed it would happen to you. Yet, countless thousands across the country every day deal with forced retirement. The loss of employment at this critical stage can be financially devastating and emotionally crippling. Recovering from job loss after the age of 50 will be the determining factor in how the rest of your life unfolds.
It happened to me and the words still sting “Today is your last day”. Consumed with disbelief and bitterness, the following days and weeks were a blur. A top performer with 25-years of loyal service, yet discarded one month before my 53rd birthday. In hindsight, these are the things I wish I had known back then.
Flouting age discrimination legislation, IBM has laid off over 20,000 senior employees since 2013. And that is only the tip of the iceberg as companies continue to shed experienced employees. According to ProPublica and the Urban Institute, a majority of older Americans with stable jobs are pushed out of work. Their analysis reveals that 56% of those over the age of 50 have experienced employer driven job loss. Effectively, they were forced out either through layoffs or deteriorating conditions.
The significance of the study is understanding the impact of ageism in the labor force. Although many will succeed in getting another job, it often takes months of job searching to find their next employer. Only one in ten will ever again earn a comparable salary. Making matters even worse, a third of these people will experience losing their second or even third jobs due to their age.
The difference between being forced and voluntarily retiring is, ultimately, who makes the decision. Thus, it’s the employer who forces the job loss and it’s not a free choice by the employee. For instance, a buyout package may be offered to incent older employees to leave. While this might sound voluntary, if you don’t accept you may later be forced out with little or nothing. Thus, you really have no choice but to leave.
Those final years of work are critical in padding your “nest egg”. It’s estimated 45% have not saved anything at all. They’re dependent upon those final years and losing their jobs will impact the rest of their lives. Most will never financially recover and these people may never be able to afford to retire.
The cold hard fact is that older employees are more expensive. Compared to their younger counterparts, it’s proven that they earn larger salaries, have more vacation time, and the cost of benefits is higher. Perceptions are that productivity diminishes with age as well as increased risk of health issues. Ultimately, it all comes down to bottom line profits so the die is cast.
Human resource departments are tasked with reducing employment costs. They probably have a spreadsheet identifying each and every employee over the age of 50. In all fairness, there is validity to some of the above points. We all know someone who is counting down the days until they retire. Burnt out and jaded, they are effectively “retired at their desk”. Instead of focusing on these employees, the mandate becomes pruning everyone past a certain age. This can further be justified with creating opportunities for the younger generation and fresh ideas.
There are enlightened companies recognizing that some of their older workers are their most valuable asset. They grasp the real value of these employees lies in the knowledge they have accumulated over the years, the relationships they have forged, and their commitment to the success of the organization. This can’t be easily replaced by someone younger.
As for the rest of the companies, they are going to find a way to get rid of you. Because age discrimination is illegal, absolutely no one will ever admit to practicing it. Usually, it will be under the guise of tough economic times or the need to reduce costs. Downsizing and layoffs generally focus on older staff. When they decide to outsource, it paves the way to shutting down entire departments and offices.
Other insidious practices include elimination of raises and bonuses. Opportunities for advancement or promotion become reserved for those younger. You know you have a target on your back when they offer you a buy out package to voluntarily leave. More aggressive tactics can include putting you on a performance plan, demotion to a lesser position, and even forcing relocation. If you are in one of these situations, the “writing is on the wall” and your days are numbered.
You’d think we would all see it coming and be better prepared. Yet, most of us are blindsided believing we are a valued employee and it won’t happen to us. Somehow, over the years we convinced ourselves that our loyalty and hard work meant something to the company. Then seemingly out of the blue, you’re terminated. OUCH! The suddenness and shock of it can feel paralyzing.
Even if you half expected this day, it is still going to be upsetting. This is highly personal because they just tossed you onto the scrap pile! It hurts you and your loved ones. This is a life changing event that may impact the rest of your life.
You may not even remember driving home (I know I didn’t). The healthiest way to deal with forced retirement is to share your feelings and what happened with your partner as soon as appropriate. If you’re not in a relationship, speak with a close friend or family member. Make it clear you don’t want advice (at least not yet). It makes a big difference to talk about it rather than bottling it up.
Expect your thoughts to be scattered and this to be an emotionally charged time. Your entire daily routine is dramatically changed. Instead of getting up in the morning and rushing to work, you’re going to feel somewhat lost. Most people report missing the social interaction they had at work. Try to get out of the house each day and meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Plan to accomplish something each day, even if it’s small. What you don’t want to do is slide into a funk becoming consumed with bitterness.
Give yourself permission to grieve and take as long as you need. Some of the emotions you might wrestle with include:
Avoid making rash decisions or burning any bridges. Keep in mind you might need a good reference from your previous employer. Having said that, if you were presented a severance package, at some point this needs to be reviewed. Get legal advice if you believe you were wrongfully dismissed.
As the dust settles, it’s time to start thinking about what you want and your options. This is a crossroads in life and not a decision to be taken lightly. Should you retire or do you need to replace your paycheck? Perhaps you received a buyout or are eligible for unemployment benefits. How much will you get on unemployment discusses eligibility as well as maximum weeks/dollars. That buys you some time to better evaluate your options and decide what is best for you.
Maybe you’re only looking for a few more years of work until you can retire. Your skills and expertise are in demand and should land you a job reasonably quickly. Others might consider further training to enhance their marketability. If you disliked what you did, it might be time to launch a new career doing something you enjoy or even starting a business. Some people have no intention of retiring or, at least, anytime soon.
This is a highly personal decision that, for most people, comes down to age and finance. Almost everything you read seems to equate money with happiness. We’ve all heard that money doesn’t buy happiness, yet living in poverty is not desirable. So, you’ll need enough income to support the lifestyle you desire. Many people have decided they will never retire and Why You Should Never Retire provides more information.
After what you have been through, it can be difficult to find the motivation to start over again. You might feel worn-out and desire less stress in your life. Also, finding a decent job becomes increasingly difficult after the age of 50. If you disliked what you did for a living, is that paycheck worth wasting more precious years of your life? Health issues or a family history riddled with disease also weigh in on your decision. Some questions to ask yourself include:
A growing trend is retirees re-entering the labor force. One reason is out of financial need when they realize they will outlive their savings. For others, it comes down to boredom. It appears they needed a year or two to recharge and, then, desire to do something more meaningful to them.
A final thought on deciding if you should retire. This is going to have a big impact on your partner and needs to be discussed. Compromises need to be made as their thoughts on retirement likely differ from yours.
While getting a good job has never been easy, it becomes increasingly difficult once you pass that half century mark. Expect your job search will drag out for months and consider it a full-time job. Your confidence erodes and you begin to question, who would hire you?
A good employment agency can help you sharpen your job-hunting skills and position you with prospective employers. Also, they can assist with matching skills with positions and may suggest additional training to find your perfect job. In addition, they can guide you in working smarter using the most effective ways of marketing yourself to prospective employers.
The unfortunate truth is that even though you are highly qualified, your application will often be screened because of your age. Common perceptions by some employers include that older applicants are:
Accept that these stereotypes are out there, particularly in some of the larger corporate entities. More progressive organizations recognize the value of their “seasoned” employees. They value the expertise, work ethic, and loyalty often lacking with younger generations. They understand the importance of “soft skills” and relationships. These tend to be smaller companies or those with customer bases consisting of an older population demographic.
We all know that your resume is critical, yet most are poorly written. It should be customized for each prospective employer conveying your unique value. This means showcasing your accomplishments with measurable outcomes. For example, let’s say you were a manager with a dozen direct reports. Most resumes list duties and responsibilities. Your resume becomes far more powerful when you provide an example of how you actually accomplished it. Say you increased sales by 18% over a quarter, that might certainly elevate their interest in you. The purpose of your resume is to get short listed for an interview.
Frequently jobs are filled with no external advertising and it becomes who you know that matters most. By enlisting family, friends, and acquaintances, you may learn of positions you would otherwise be unaware of. Social media such as Facebook can also dramatically extend your reach. LinkedIn is a useful platform to update your profile and to research companies. Posting an article on your field of expertise can generate exposure and enhance your credibility. Keep current by attending conferences and networking functions.
Not everyone wants to or should start a business. On average, entrepreneurs work longer hours earning less money than working for an employer. The upside is that they are their own boss and there is no limit as to how much money they can make. The downside is everything rests on your shoulders. Statistically, about 50% of small businesses fail within five years.
In spite of these dismal statistics, becoming your own boss may be the right decision for you. It’s not surprising to learn that the 55 to 64 age group represents the largest number of new businesses. Also, they tend to have a higher success rate. This is largely due to gaining a lifetime of experience, the number of relationships they have developed, and better financial positions. One might also argue these individuals are more focused and committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve success.
The opportunities are almost limitless. The most successful businesses meet an unfulfilled need by offering a better product or service than otherwise available. For example, you might decide to leverage your skills and experience as a contractor or on a consulting basis. For organizations lacking in manpower or expertise, you become a perfect fit. Ironically, your previous employer might even be a candidate for your services.
Let’s say you’d rather launch something completely new. At a minimum, it should be something you are interested in and have (or can gain) expertise in. Everyone looks for value for their dollar which is highly subjective to the person spending the money. Reducing costs may be the primary factor or they may be willing to pay more for a superior service. As well, risk is important as people tend to buy from those they know, like, and trust. Some of the questions you want to address include:
For example, you might be passionate about fishing and desire to earn an income. Three options come to mind:
How to deal with forced retirement addresses the financial and emotional challenges of recovering from job loss after the age of 50. Your next steps will be critical in determining the quality of the rest of your life.
Retirement is supposed to be the best time of your life, right? No one retires and expects to be bored to death. That isn’t what you signed up for. The Ultimate Guide on things to do when retired and bored takes a unique approach to breaking the cycle of monotony.
First, understand that it's a state of mind where you experience disinterest and lack of motivation. Some of the factors that contribute to that feeling might include:
Interestingly, this state of mind only occurs while you are psychologically energetic without something meaningful to do. Ever notice that it is almost impossible to feel unmotivated while you are doing something fun or are completely relaxed? Thus, it is because you are doing something unimportant that you experience disinterest and lack of motivation.
Let’s face it, retirement is not an easy transition for everyone. We go from a busy lifestyle to suddenly having a great deal of time on our hands. At first, it seems wonderful with no one holding us accountable plus the ability to do whatever we want. As the novelty wears off, many retirees expand a low value activity to fill their hours. As an example, a friend decided on the drive home not to pick up a few things at the grocery store. The reason was so they would have something to do the following day! They had both been busy professionals and were now searching for something to do each day.
At the other extreme are people who are busier than ever. They immerse themselves into anything and everything to keep busy. Unfortunately, finding that these activities are not important or worthwhile to them causes feelings of indifference to soon rear its ugly head.
Some retirees get “stuck” in almost the same routine day after day. It becomes like Ground Hog Day. Somehow, you need to breakout of the same old patterns and find a way to revitalize your days. The first step to consider is “what is the underlying reason for this dissatisfaction?”
If you can identify the causes, then it makes it easier to change them. On a side note, many people suppress unresolved feelings of anger, loss, and/or sadness that hold them back. These aren’t easy to pin down and can be an underlying factor. Examples include marital difficulties, health related issues, or financial setbacks. In addition, if you are sleep deprived or overwhelmed with busyness you are more prone to feeling more discontentment.
Now what is the purpose of your life? It might be as simple as “I want to be happy and healthy”. You might choose to expand it with “spend more time with family and friends”, “traveling and seeing the world” or “making a difference for others”. How do you want to be remembered? Hopefully, not that he/she was a miserable old curmudgeon! For myself, my desire is that my research and words help others with their transition into a great retirement.
Too often we get caught up in life and it feels like we are autopilot. Take the time to think about what is really important to you and use it as your guiding light. This will make it easier to focus on the things that will interest you and make a difference.
Isn’t it sad that after a lifetime of working, most of us are at a loss to identify anything that really excites us? Without a doubt, it is easy to dismiss everything we’re not interested in. The greater challenge is to discover (or re-discover) those dormant interests that add zest to your life.
Let’s say you are one of the fortunate few that only desires a little “spice” in your life. You just haven’t found anything that is really captivating so, occasionally, you feel a little disinterested. Think back to your childhood and what used to excite you. If you took an aptitude test, there were likely strengths that you never pursued. If you can find something that at least intrigues you, then give it a shot and “just do it”. If that doesn’t work out, you can always try something else.
For the rest of us, we need to think in a more comprehensive way. Instead of looking for the one thing, it really should be more about balance in life. There are four aspects to consider:
Thinking of it this way makes it easier to find activities that align with what is important to you. For instance, knowing you need physical activity you could join a local walking group. They get you up and moving each day and friendships develop. Before long you’re actually looking forward to your morning walk.
You’ll probably find that lots of activities will overlap into other categories. For instance, you might decide you’d like to take up the guitar. This will certainly stimulate your mind as you learn the chords and new songs. To make it more fun, let’s say you to take some lessons and play with others. As you gain some proficiency, you might wow your grandchildren with your rendition of Happy Birthday or have a sing along. This might even lead to you teaching then to play the guitar.
One of the things you can do when you're retired and bored is to get into better shape. Especially as we age, it becomes vital to remain physically active and have a healthy diet. Think of it as an investment for your future to live a healthier, happy life. It is suggested that you should have a minimum of 30 minutes a day of brisk activity. Some of the benefits of daily physical activity include:
In addition, improved mental health and social engagement are associated with a more active lifestyle. Let’s be blunt, most people dread the idea of going to a gym to workout. The last thing you want is to do is something boring, so how about something fun? Some of the best activities include swimming, aqua size, walking, and cycling. All are low impact and are often done with others in a supportive environment. Perhaps, there’s a recreational league nearby and playing a sport is more appealing.
Daily walk, cycling, jogging
Swimming, aqua size
Aerobics, yoga, tai chi, Pilates
Self defense course or take karate, judo, taekwondo, jiu jitsu, kung fu, etc.
Recreational sports such as basketball, volleyball, racket ball, softball, tennis, badminton, pickle ball, bowling, etc.
Golf (especially without a golf cart)
Research indicates that happiness and well being are directly correlated with the quality of social interaction you maintain with others. Our article The Most Important Ingredient for Happiness in Retirement goes into greater depth on this topic.
If you’re in a relationship there is no better time to discuss, with your significant other, improving the time you share together. Likely, you have some shared interests that you will enjoy together. Respect that your partner has separate interests and friendships. They are not responsible for entertaining you.
Also, this can extend to other family members where you want to be more involved in their lives. This is especially true of grandchildren who grow up all too quickly.
Spouse – quality time together; plan a vacation; shared activities such as walking, cooking, or a dance class
Extended family – visiting and spending more time with family members
Grandchildren – get more involved in their lives and holidays, special and daily events
Friends - getting together more frequently for coffee, lunch, etc.
Joining a social/interest group such as a book club, bridge group, golf league, travel, etc.
Community groups – getting involved in local activities
Taking a fun course – painting, pottery, sculpturing, handicrafts, cooking, scrap booking, wine making, etc.
Plan an evening to play cards or board games with friends.
Invite friends or family for a BBQ or supper.
First and foremost, one of the biggest factors in cognitive decline is lack of mental stimulation. Sitting in front of the TV can be entertaining and help pass time, however, it seldom stimulates your thought process. Rather than passively absorbing what is happening around you, consider reawakening your creative side and you can learn new things when retired and bored.
Take a course (online or classroom) on creative writing, home repair, automotive repair, starting a business, photography, or whatever interests you.
Learn a new language.
Join an interest group – politics, book club, bridge group, chess, etc.
Start a business - consulting, online, service based (house sitting, lawn maintenance, dog walking, etc.)
Genealogy – research your family tree including traveling and pulling it together in a book.
The old adage “it’s better to give than receive” is true. With all your skills, experience, and free time there are many ways to help others. Volunteering for a worthy cause is just one way to get involved. You might choose to join a community group or contribute to a church initiative helping at the local level. Sharing your experience by teaching or mentoring others is another option.
Volunteer opportunities may include:
Boy Scouts/Girl Guides
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Habitat for Humanity
Sports teams - little league baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball
Schools and colleges teaching and/or mentoring others
The Ultimate Guide on Things to do When Retired and Bored takes a unique approach. What to do in retirement is, often, one of the greatest challenges people face. Understanding your feelings of monotony, dissatisfaction and lack of interest puts you in the driver’s seat of your destiny. This knowledge gives you more guidance and awareness over where to start, what to do and how you can change it for the better. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make your retirement, future and life “the best that it can be”.
To spare you reading dozens (or even hundreds) of reviews, we decided to share our unbiased review of the Crown Paradise Golden (CPG). To be completely candid, we had a fantastic two-week vacation and would go back in a heart beat. In fact, numerous people we met return year after year with no desire to ever go anywhere else. One delightful woman even stated that this was her 22nd year! Now if that isn't saying something positive about this resort, I don't know what else would be more impressive.
The Crown Paradise Golden was one of the best all-inclusive resorts we ever experienced! Perfect location, great amenities, and friendly staff that go out of their way to make your vacation amazing. The value was unbeatable!
This is an older resort located right in Puerto Vallarta with a beautiful beach front. Extensive upgrades have been done to the rooms and property. An entirely new tower has been constructed with a roof-top infinity pool. Everything is close together, unlike some of the new larger sprawling resorts. This is an adult only facility, yet you have full access to the family focused sister resort next door.
Just as in real estate, location is important. Have you ever been to a resort where you felt stranded in the middle of nowhere? Not so at the CPG. It’s located right in Puerto Vallarta. After your plane lands, it is only a 15-minute drive to the resort. You can’t miss seeing the marina just before arriving. We enjoyed watching cruise ships sail away many afternoons.
Typically, people go to an all-inclusive to relax and lay in the sun. After a few days, it can actually get boring. Although they provide pool and beach activities, even this can grow old. The good news is there is lots to see and do when you are ready to explore outside of the resort.
Puerto Vallarta retains a unique mix of local Mexican culture with a highly developed tourist focus. There is no excuse to feel stuck in the resort. A short stroll takes you to a flea market which is next to the sister resort (Crown Paradise Club). We spoke with Manuel G. (Stand 68 Maritime Market) about their fine silver and jewelry.
Less than a five-minute walk encompasses lots of small shops and a large grocery / general type store (Soriyano’s). Most convenient if you run out of sunscreen (as we did) or forget something. Another 5 to 10-minute walk on the main road and you’ll be at a mall and Walmart with an even greater selection.
The front desk and staff are informative about leaving the resort and exploring the town. There always seemed to be a taxi nearby and the rates were reasonable for most anywhere you want to go. We understood it was 130 pesos fare to the airport and about the same to downtown or the Malecon (shopping boulevard). Taking a more adventurous approach to seeing Puerto Vallarta, we rode their local buses. Only ten pesos for a bone jarring ride over their stone filled roadways. Lots of locals use the buses, yet we felt perfectly safe and found everyone to be friendly.
If you are more interested in excursions, there are a vast multitude of options. These can be booked through the resort, local shops nearby, or even through beach vendors (not recommended). Francisco Munoz (Sol Vacaciones) was a treasure trove of helpful information on things to do. There truly is something for everyone ranging from cultural adventures (city tours and sights), sea activities (snorkeling, scuba, sailing), and adventure (all-terrain & ATV).
Also recommended is Puerto Vallarta’s famous Rhythms of the Night evening show and dinner. Most excursions leave and return from the marina which is, fortunately, close by.
The weather was ideal for us during our December stay. Every day hovered around 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C) with the evenings cooling off to 77 F (25 C). Not a hint of rain with gentle refreshing ocean breezes.
This has not always been the case on other vacations we’ve taken. The weather on the Cancun side is much less predictable and we met numerous people from the eastern seaboard that prefer Puerto Vallarta.
The stereotypical all-inclusive vacation might consist of 10:00 am tequila shots with endless grazing of uninspiring buffets. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of food, beverages, and service. You may have heard stories how alcohol is watered down and cheap brands are used. Not so here, they served premium brands of alcohol (at no extra charge). The only thing we didn’t like was that they, occasionally, ran out of certain liquors and beer by the end of the day.
Puerto Vallarta is renown for great inexpensive restaurants. For a change of pace, you might consider eating out one evening. Depending upon where you go, a really good supper starts at about 200 pesos.
We were pleased with the breakfast buffet, especially with the fantastic omelets and crispy strips of bacon. One of the bonuses of staying at the CPG is full access to their sister resort. The buffet at Crown Paradise Club (CPC) was, at least, twice as big with much more selection. For lunch and the occasional dinner, we much preferred the larger buffet. Keep in mind, this is the family resort and there will be lots of kids (and they are not your children or grandchildren).
The snack bar served burgers, deep fried hot-dogs (actually pretty good), fries, and nachos. Basic fare, yet a nice option when you weren’t in the mood for the buffet. It seemed a little ridiculous that they were only open from 11 am to 6 pm. Travelers fly from across the country arriving at all hours. If you are hungry during the night, your only option is room service with a 70-peso surcharge.
Overall, we were very impressed with their a la carte dining. The reservation system was slightly clumsy. We found it best to go to our chosen restaurant between 3 pm and 5 pm the day before to make our reservation. We liked that there were no limits on how many times you could go and that there were no extra costs. Be aware of the dress code and don’t show up wearing sandals like I did. That resulted in a dash to the room to change shoes.
Our favorite was the Mexican restaurant and the incredible steak they served on a sizzling cast-iron frying pan. Previous experiences have taught me that Mexican beef is inevitably tough and tasteless. Not so here, it was tender and absolutely delicious.
All the restaurants were good as they really strive to provide a great dining experience. On the CPG side, the restaurants included Salvador’s, the Mediterranean, and the Mexican. The CPC side included the Italian (very good), the Japanese, and the French.
To be candid, why would anyone go to a resort without a nice beach? We certainly weren’t disappointed by the beautiful sand and crashing surf. Who doesn’t want to, at least, dip a toe into the ocean or partake in some of the abundance of water activities?
If stretching out and relaxing is more your thing there are day beds, lounge chairs, and even hammocks. Although the resort stipulates these cannot be reserved and left unattended, this is not enforced. In fact, to get their favorite spot many people are up at the crack of dawn leaving a towel and a personal belonging to reserve it.
Our favorite spot was the Breeze Bar where we could sit in the shade and observe all the beach activities. Funny that never seemed to get bored. We were always meeting so many interesting people. Often, we stayed to watch the awesome sunsets. One of the irritants was the beach vendors. Although they were not pushy or rude, we probably were approached at least 30 times a day. They are supposed to remain behind the rope on the public portion of the beach, yet they continually circulated among the guests. Occasionally, security would warn the most persistent ones.
One of the unexpected highlights of our vacation was observing a sea turtle laying her eggs. Apparently, this is somewhat rare in December and drew quite a crowd. As a protected species, wildlife quickly arrived with the end result being the eggs were relocated to a turtle sanctuary. Even more interesting was when wildlife released newly hatched baby turtles later that evening.
While the main pool is large and never seemed crowded, we greatly preferred the rooftop infinity pool. Besides the spectacular view, the sun and ocean breeze made it a popular place. Located atop the new building, it is accessed by their main elevator.
We were fortunate to have an deluxe ocean view room on the 8th floor. Overall, quite impressed with the room especially the view from our balcony. Except for the one thing that completely took us by surprise.
The second evening, we were sitting on our balcony as the sun set. We began to hear what sounded like a chittering sound above us. Suddenly, the air all around us was alive with dark swooping creatures. Oh my god! Thousands of bats launched themselves into the night. For perhaps a minute, the evacuation was in full force as they flew out from under the roof tiles. They were completely harmless, didn't come near us and we soon looked forward to it as a nightly ritual.
The room itself was clean and spacious with an extremely comfortable king-size bed. Possibly, only in Mexico would one find a marble tile bathtub. Be careful as it can be slippery! The mini fridge is filled daily with beer, soft drinks, and water which was convenient.
Obviously, our Crown Paradise Golden review is glowing and we look forward to returning. It surprised us how many people return year after year which, in itself, is the highest form of praise. Some of the reasons include the commitment of the staff to making your stay enjoyable, the unique blend of a Mexican town as well as a tourism focus, and ultimately a price point that is hard to beat. If you get a chance to stay at the resort, we’d love to hear your comments.
And if an all-inclusive if not your ideal vacation, check out our article on our 14 day full transit cruise through the Panama Canal.
If the Panama Canal is on your bucket list, a cruise might be just the ticket for you. Far more than just an engineering marvel, it has become a critical pathway interconnecting two oceans. There are so many amazing facts about Panama Canal that lots of people miss out on.
Being a bit of a research nerd, I like to educate myself on the places I will see. Finding a book in the ship’s library was like gold for me. The problem was I had three days before we started our transit. With daily excursions booked and the incredible dining / shows in the evening; there simply wasn’t much time to read. So, not to disturb my wife, I consumed chapter after chapter into the wee hours of the morning perched upon the ivory throne. While it wasn’t the most comfortable reading position, I was so enthralled it was difficult to stop reading.
#1. Wonder of the Modern World
Many consider it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World with almost a million tourists visiting each year.
You might wonder why it is so special. Why is it considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world? With almost a million tourists each year, it certainly draws people’s interest. An interesting tidbit is about a third of all visitors are aboard cruise ships.
It is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, certainly at the turn of the century. For the past 100+ years, it has dramatically shortened travel time as well as shipping costs.
For me, this might be the most intriguing cruise I have ever been on. As spectacular as the cruise was, it was the people I met that made it even more memorable. Likely, your fellow passengers are from all across the world including Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, and more. Probably, there will not too many children and many of the passengers will be 50 plus. This is the trip of a lifetime for many who finally have the time / financial resources to have this experience. My advice is to keep yourself open to meeting new people and you might make this your best adventure ever. Fun Things to Do in Retirement describes some of the incredible people we have met while on a cruise.
It is an early morning start, especially if you stayed up too late the night before. Squeezing in those last chapters probably wasn’t the brightest thing to do. The public announcement system comes alive and a narrator begins sharing information and explaining the history. The atmosphere aboard the ship is buzzing with excitement as we approach the Miraflores locks.
There is another cruise ship already in the lock as we approach. There are two parallel lanes which allows us to view her being raised as we are poised to enter ours. This is the “Big Event” and what everyone came to see. It was standing room only with the deck railings absolutely jam packed. Peering down, you see little locomotives called “mules” maneuvering and pulling the ship forward. There is so little clearance that the mules are critical for safely moving the ship into and through the locks. The massive gates swing and close behind us. Nothing quite describes the sensation of floating upward on a 91,740-ton ship. The water beneath us churns and in less than ten minutes everything appears even smaller.
Between these two locks, we will be lifted between 43 to 64.5 feet, depending upon if it is low-tide or high-tide. Each time a ship passes through, 53,400 US gallons of freshwater are discharged into the ocean.
Onward and upwards, it’s about a mile to Pedro Miguel locks which will raise the ship another 31 feet. It seems like in almost no time at all we achieve our maximum elevation of 85 feet above sea level. Looking forward, the skyline is dominated by the Centennial Bridge. Completed in 2004, six lanes of traffic (5,007 feet long) arch across the channel. This also marks the beginning of the Culebra cut.
The Culebra cut (previously known as the Gaillard Cut) was the most difficult part of the construction. Over 60 million pounds of dynamite were used to blast through the rock. In excess of 200 million cubic yards of earth were excavated. While only eight and a half miles long, it is also the narrowest and most dangerous part. The narrowest spot is only 300 feet wide. There is extensive terracing on the hillsides to minimize land slides during the rainy season.
When it first opened, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world. Besides functioning as a water reservoir, the lake also supports a rich ecosystem. Encompassing approximately 164 square miles, the fresh-water lake is replenished during the rainy season.
This is when you sit back and relax as it is 20.3 miles to the Gatun locks. You’ll likely see many other ships during this stage of the crossing.
As interesting as the passage was, it has been a long, hot day. Gatun locks finally come into view and there is a lot less passengers crowding the decks. For me, it’s the perfect opportunity to get to the front of the ship. Surprisingly, they still use a rowboat to connect the cables from the mules to the ship. While it is a tried and true method, somehow, I expected something a little more elaborate.
Once we are in Gatun lock, I want to get down to a lower deck to really observe things. The sides are so close, that you can almost touch them! Being up close is even more impressive! We are passing though three consecutive locks which will lower us down 85 feet bringing us back to sea level.
Sailing into the Caribbean, I can’t help but notice all the ships preparing for their turn. It really has been an amazing day!
Without this passage, ships would need to sail around South America adding approximately 7,900 miles to their journey. Also, Cape Horn is notorious for raging storms and shipping dangers. Time is money in the shipping industry and sailing around the horn added, at least, an extra week of travel time plus much higher fuel costs. In comparison, it takes between 8-10 hours to transit the 50 miles in safety.
#2. Transit Time
A full transit takes between 8 and 10 hours.
There is an immense amount of traffic. According to the Panama Canal Museum, 12,000 to 15,000 vessels traverse it each year. In 2017, the volume of traffic was 13,548 vessels transporting 403.8 million tons of cargo. That works out to about 40 ships each and every day. You may notice long lines of ships queuing at each end. Most people are unaware that it is not “first come, first served”. In fact, the transit bookings are often made more than a year in advance. Rest assured that if you are not on the ship, it will not wait for you.
#3. Traffic Volume
Each year between 12,000 to 15,000 vessels transit it. That is an average of 40 ships each day.
The operation of it is around the clock 365 days a year. It is big business and every vessel pays a toll to the authority. Our narrator announced the toll for our ship was $470,000.00! Further investigation revealed that the tolls are based on the number of passengers with a cost of $138.00 to $148.00 per bed (berth). In addition, cruise ships pay a premium of $35,000 to reserve a specific time to enter. This ensures the transit is completed during daylight hours. All these costs are built-in to your “port fees and taxes”. This is why this cruise is, usually, a bit more expensive than your run-of-the-mill Caribbean cruise. Cargo vessels are charged based on their size and tonnage.
#4. Toll Fee
The toll charge for a mid-sized cruise ship can exceed $450,000.
Back in 1914, the locks were designed to fit the vessels of the time. Thus, the locks were 1,050 feet long, 110 feet wide, and 42 feet deep. This led what is referred to as “Panamax” ships which are a maximum of 965 feet long, 106 feet wide, and a depth of no more than 39.5 feet.
Today, we observe much larger mega-ships going through. In 2007, the Panamanians undertook a $5.25 billion expansion project adding larger locks. Completed in 2016, the new locks are 1,400 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 60 feet deep. The project also required the widening and deepening of existing channels.
With the equator only 622 miles to the south, the climate is a tropical, hot and humid one. Light clothing is best and some may find it almost stifling on the deck or balcony. Rain seldom occurs outside the rainy season from May to November. The average rainfall is 130 inches on the Caribbean side with the Pacific side receiving 68 inches. The average temperature is 81 degrees creeping up to 84 degrees during the summer months. The best time to cruise is between December and March so you can avoid the rainy season.
For the past 100 years, the watershed has replenished itself. However, in recent years, there has been rising concerns about global weather changes (El Nino). The years 2014 to 2016 were the driest years on record. This has led the authorities to implement water conservation practices. For example, the new locks have tubs that recover 60% of the water which is, then, recycled (less lost to the sea).
If you want to see it in its entirety, consider a full-transit cruise. Generally, these leave from Florida or California and are typically 10 to 15 days in length. In my opinion, these cruises provide the full experience of traversing the entire waterway. In addition, most of them, also, make stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico to name a few.
Numerous Caribbean cruises offer partial transits. This means they will enter and exit through the Gatun locks. Thus, you get to see the locks in action while still remaining on the Caribbean side. These cruises also offer day excursions such as an eco-tour, train rides, or seeing Colon.
Riots in 1964 raised questions as to the right of Americans to control the passageway. With escalating tension and unfavorable world opinion, President Jimmy Carter signed the 1977 treaty to transfer authority. Neutrality was explicitly stated with the military right of the US to defend the waterway if threatened.
The United States transferred ownership and control to Panama on December 31, 1999. It was completed peacefully. It is operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority.
The United States transferred ownership and control on December 31, 1999.
Like many central American countries, Panama was poor and the waterway has greatly improved their prosperity. In 2018, revenues of $2.5 billion were generated. Moreover, its operations provide approximately 9,000 jobs.
It generates $2.5 billion in revenue each year as well as 9,000 jobs.
Learning a little of the history made my cruise more meaningful. For instance, the first transcontinental railway in the world was completed across the isthmus in 1855. The primary reason was the increased traffic after the California gold rush of 1849. This was built by the US at a cost of $8 million with an estimated 5,000-10,000 lives lost. It greatly reduced the travel time for passenger, mail, and freight of the era. This underscored the need for a ship passage between the oceans.
After completing the Suez Canal in 1869, the French builder Ferdinand de Lesseps turned his eye to Panama. Amidst great fanfare, the French valiantly began digging in 1881. By 1889, they had spent $287 million and were bankrupt. Their colossal failure was largely due to underestimating the unique challenges of construction faced in building the crossing:
Initially, there was strong political desire to build a passageway through Nicaragua. Besides being closer to the US, it was considered easier. If it had not been for a series of volcanic eruptions at the time of debate, it may very well have been built in Nicaragua.
As a sea level waterway was clearly impractical, the design soon became a lock-based system. American ingenuity and efficiency called for bigger and better equipment such as steam shovels almost twice the size of the French. Most importantly, medical breakthroughs identified the causes of malaria and yellow fever reducing mortality to 5,609. Even with these advantages, it would take a further 10 years and $375 million (about $8 billion in today’s money) to complete.
#7. Construction Tidbits
The United States spent $375 million ($8 billion today) to complete the construction in 1914.
The Culebra cut remained one of the greatest obstacles. Over 60 million pounds of dynamite were used to blast through the rock. Landslides remained an ever-present threat. Whereas the French had removed about 30,000 cubic yards, the Americans excavated closer to 240,000 cubic yards.
Over 4.5 million yards of concrete was used in the construction of the locks and dams. The side walls at the base are 45 to 55 feet thick. These taper to the top with a thickness of 8 feet. The center wall between chambers is 60 feet thick. The steel gates that open and close the locks are seven-feet-thick.
After over 100 years of operation, the locks still work as well as they did in 1914. People from around the world flock to observe the waterway that changed our world; with the best way being aboard a ship. Seeing the operation of the locks is impressive, yet it is the sheer volume of excavation that is even a greater accomplishment. The simple fact about Panama Canal is that it is an engineering marvel and, truly, a “monument of the millennium”.
Maybe you are concerned that your ears aren't as sharp as they used to be or your partner, parent, or other loved one has difficulty. Often referred to as the “Hidden Disability”, hearing loss associated with aging is far more widespread than most of us are aware. In fact, it is one of the most common conditions affecting about one in three Americans between the ages of 65 and 74. Nearly half of those 75 and older will have difficulties. While it is normal for older adults to be “hard of hearing”, this contributes to a host of problems in social interaction and even, potentially, leading to social isolation.
While hearing aids help with hearing loss with aging, they are not the cure all. They amplify all sounds and in a noisy environment become less effective. Secondly, they are expensive and many people that would benefit from them simply cannot afford them.
The human ear is an acoustic engineering marvel. We are able to filter out noise and still differentiate words as similar as fought and thought. Without even thinking about it, you pick up the difference between a guitar and a violin. Even whether the sound is coming from behind, in front, or off to the side of you.
Hearing impairment is far more widespread than most of us are aware. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America approximately 20% (48 million) Americans report some degree of loss and have experienced tinnitus or other symptoms.
Usually, hearing loss is a gradual process that sneaks up on most of us over the years. To compensate, we turn the TV up a little louder and pay more attention when we speak with someone. Particularly in noisy environments, it is completely normal to miss some of what is said. As long as you catch the gist of what is meant, all is good. Even worse are those public announcements over PA systems or drive-thru windows. Even those with sharp ears often find them garbled and incomprehensible.
It only becomes an issue when you are unable to comprehend what someone is saying. Too much information is missed and you are unable to piece together the conversation. No one wants to appear stupid by continually asking others to repeat themselves or speak louder. Thus, it is natural to pretend to have heard everything even if you only caught a portion of what was said. This is why hearing loss is often referred to as a hidden disability. Furthermore, it is easy to make excuses or even deny that you have an issue. Rather than suffer the embarrassment and frustration, it is easier to avoid conversing with others.
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders approximately 28 million adults (ages 20 - 69) would benefit from some sort of assistive aid. Their findings reflect:
>The average age of the 1st time hearing aid wearer is 70.
>A large number of people wait 15 years before purchasing one.
>Of the 28 million people that could benefit, fewer than 16% use them.
>Of those age 70 and older that would benefit, fewer than 30% use them.
>The cost of a hearing aid device ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 depending upon the technology.
Growing up, there was little awareness about the risk of hearing loss due to loud noises and/or extended exposure. When the Walkman first came out, most of us ran out and purchased one. It was cool to crank up our favorite music up and, unwittingly, damage our auditory range. Actually, the young generations are following in our footsteps with even more powerful personal listening devices. You may have also attended rock concerts and afterwards noticed your ears still ringing after the performance.
Long-term exposure to loud sounds irreparably damages the sensory hair cells in the ear. This has a cumulative effect that has likely diminished your auditory sense. The majority of factory and shop environments utilize loud equipment creating a high-level of background noise. Men traditionally operate lawnmowers and power equipment that produce high noise levels. As a result of years of noise exposure, males are twice as likely to experience this type of impairment.
In addition to a lifetime of noise exposure, there is also hearing loss with aging or presbycusis. Unfortunately, it is part of getting older and most of us will experience it more and more. Although there are several causes, the most frequent cause is the inner ear changing as we age. Less common are changes to the middle ear or nerve pathways. The best way to describe it is as similar to how our eyesight changes. Fine print becomes almost indecipherable without reading glasses (or a magnifying glass). In a dimly lit restaurant, the menu might as well be written in Mandarin.
Other factors that contribute include injury, viral infections, shingles, some medications, meningitis, and diabetes.
If you are experiencing difficulties, an audiologist can test and determine the severity of your loss. There are four levels defined as mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Furthermore, hearing loss may vary for different ranges of sound. For instance, you might have mild loss for low pitch sounds and moderate loss for higher pitch sounds.
>Mild - If you find yourself frequently asking people to repeat themselves or speak up, you may have mild hearing loss. it would be almost like listening with your fingers in your ears. Sounds that are quieter than 25 to 45 dB become lost. Normal conversations can still be heard, yet you may struggle when there is background noise or when more than one person is speaking. There are many hearing aids that can amplify these lower dB ranges and minimize listening problems. These may be small in the ear or behind the ear models.
>Moderate – When you are only picking up some words or portions of words, it has now become moderate. In short, you can hear but have difficulty understanding a normal conversation. Sounds in the range of 40 to 75 dB are the quietest that you will be able to hear. The appropriate aid will need to be fitted and likely be a higher end device than for mild loss.
>Severe – This level of loss means everyday sounds are not distinguishable, such as people talking, the TV, or the phone ringing. This means you are not detecting below the 75 to 90 dB tone. This higher range will require the most expensive aids or a cochlear implant.
>Profound – At this fourth level of loss, sounds such as airplane engines, first responder sirens, and loud power equipment (lawn mover or chainsaw) would be the only ones in your range of sound. Effectively, 90 dB is the lowest tone heard which does further damage. A cochlear implant would likely be highly recommended.
An audiogram showing a profound bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss. Source: Cochlear
It is easier to keep to yourself than suffer the indignity and embarrassment of not being able to communicate with others. This directly impacts your quality of life and can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Social interaction and connection with family and friends is critical to your very happiness. This is further explained in The Most Important Ingredient for Retirement Happiness.
Without hearing aids countless millions of people would be left in the dark, so to speak. Although not a perfect solution, they provide the ability to hear again and interact with others. Technologically, they continue to advance with ongoing research improving sound quality and making these devices more comfortable. Older analog technology amplified all sounds and was unable to filter out or reduce unwanted noise.
Modern digital aids convert sound into electronic information. Loud ambient sounds can be reduced with only the major signal (speech) amplified. By delivering improved sound quality, the wearer can hear better in noisy environments. Most users require several visits to an audiologist to properly fine tune their hearing aids.
There are a vast array of styles available to meet individual requirements and levels of loss. Getting an auditory exam and discussing you best options with a qualified specialist is highly recommended.
The greatest disadvantage is their cost. Unfortunately, most healthcare plans, either, do not cover them or only a portion of the cost. When hearing loss with aging occurs, many retirees find themselves unable to afford them. In addition, these are not a one-time purchase. The average lifespan varies from 3-7 years depending upon the style. Also, over time, things may continue to degrade requiring a more expensive hearing aid.
If you have not done so, it might be wise to set-up a health spending account (HSA) or other savings to cover the costs. This will alleviate financial distress where you might find yourself in a position of being unable to afford them.
Most of us assume that these aids will fix the problem. After all, if we can put a man on the moon, surely, we can fully restore hearing. While they certainly help; at this time, they still have limitations. Their basic function is to amplify sound. Even the latest and greatest devices do not provide the same quality as your own perfect ears. In a relatively quiet environment, you should be able to clearly hear and participate in a conversation. In a noisy environment, that same conversation may become more problematic. In a lecture / theater environment, sounds from a distance are often lost.
Some of the side effects of poor quality or improperly fitted aids include:
>Headaches and tinnitus.
>Improper sound levels further damaging your ears.
>Discomfort, soreness, and skin irritation.
>Feedback and/or buzzing.
Technology continues to evolve with more options become available addressing functionality and comfort. The basic purpose is to amplify sound. Also, most have a “t-coil” ensuring you can use hearing loops (see below).
Some provide Bluetooth compatibility for integration with electronic devices. This can include your cellphone, computer, and even watching TV. One of the drawbacks with Bluetooth is increased battery drain.
An audio induction loop (also referred to as a hearing loop) is special antenna wiring that enables people with hearing aids to better pick up the audio source in public areas. Most devices have a built in t-coil (telecoil) that will detect the sound signal while minimizing background noises. These are ideal in public areas or at retail / service counters.
Images from: Acoustic Loop Innovations
Audio induction coils are becoming much more widespread as government and business recognize the desirability to improve service. In some locales, legislation has passed promoting better accessibility and understanding. This image is the universal sign for hearing loops.
Although still relatively new, you may find the t-coil sign almost anywhere throughout your community. Imagine spending several hundred dollars to go to a theater production and still straining to understand it. With your new hearing aids, you can clearly hear the people behind you commenting on the show. As well as the people in front of you whispering about where the washrooms are. Yet, if the theater had installed these loops, you would be able to enjoy the performance with none of the other distractions. With our aging population, theaters will soon find attendance dropping if audio induction coils are not in place and implemented.
Another example would be the public transit kiosk. The 18-year-old kid behind the window doesn’t seem to care that you can’t understand what he says over that stupid tinny speaker. The background noise is horrendous and there is a long line behind you. It would just be so much easier if they had set up a hearing loop. Other situations where they are desirable include:
>Government and court rooms
>Places of worship
>Banquet and trade show facilities
>Ticket counter and information booths
>Hospitals and other medical facilities
Hearing loss with aging will become a fact of life for the majority of us, especially from the age of 65 years and on. No one likes to admit they are getting old, yet it is something you cannot ignore. It becomes a hidden disability as most people you interact with won’t even realize you can’t hear them. Hearing aids are critical to remaining socially engaged, avoiding social isolation and living a rewarding and comfortable life. Make sure to take care of you as best you can!
What age to retire might be best viewed as how much longer do I have to work at a job that no longer fulfills me? Whether you hate your job, are burnt out from the daily grind, have health concerns or want some more time to yourself, you may be thinking and asking yourself when can I leave all this stress behind. The reality is few of us retire when we initially planned. Financially, we all know we should work until, at least, 65 yet the trials and tribulations of work may be taking years off of your life.
Statistically, the most common age of retirement is 62 which, coincidentally, is the earliest you can draw social security. Other considerations staring you in the face might include health issues or the desire to life live while you still can. Money isn’t everything and can't buy happiness! The financial gurus suggest you need to save at least $1 Million which is, clearly, unrealistic for most of us.
When to retire is a personal decision for each and everyone of us. The bottom line is that you can retire whenever you want. Generally, the decision is made based on your unique situation including your finances, health and what ever else is happening in your life. The following describes the most common reasons people retire:
Rather than focus on what age to retire, maybe the real question should be when is the best time to retire for you. My wife and I discussed this extensively prior to her leaving a toxic work environment where she was completely undervalued by a self-important arrogant boss. Age 55 may not be the optimal retirement age; however, the stress had gotten to the point it was seriously affecting her health. If you want to learn more about the challenges she went through, her Bad Boss article chronicles the hell she went through making this decision.
No job is worth it when it begins impacting your health! If you are unhappy, it is a time to explore options that are better suited for you. These might be finding a different job or, alternatively, deciding it is time to retire. For others, retirement consists of leaving their career and pursuing something they enjoy. Also, financial considerations will influence when is the best time to retire.
To be candid, your savings/pension and social security need to support a comfortable lifestyle for you in retirement. Everyone is different with vastly different expectations and/or needs. For example, if you desire a modest lifestyle, you might be able to achieve this simply by downsizing and reducing your costs. Alternatively, others may want to travel the world and require a great deal more disposable income. This will require more savings and, likely, working longer.
Can you afford to retire requires reviewing your expenses and what you really need for the lifestyle you desire. These steps include:
If everything lines up financially, you should enjoy a comfortable retirement. For most of us, we are going to be a bit short and compromises will need to be made.
To retire on your own terms requires you to have a clear vision of your value to your organization and what it is you want and need. Once you “pull-the-plug” and retire, it is often difficult if not impossible to return to your old job or even find a similar position.
If you enjoy what you do, don’t rush into retirement just because of your age. Perhaps you desire more time to enjoy life or have a “bucket list” of travel destinations. There may be opportunities to discuss with your employer options of either reducing work hours and/or taking extended time off. For instance, a friend of ours winters in the Caribbean. He is, still, available on a consultative basis for six months of the year. Although his income is adjusted, it sure seems like a sweet deal.
Perhaps an African safari or some other adventure has always been your dream so why wait for retirement? Consider using any unused vacation time or even taking a leave of absence. Do what is important to you now while you are youthful enough to fully enjoy! Also, it will be easier to pay for it while you still are working. After you retire, the cost will likely be a major hit to your retirement savings.
You can retire at any age; however, you will likely live three more decades. According to the Social Security Administration, a man can expect to live to 84 while a woman’s age is 86.4. Most of us are not financially prepared for full retirement at 55. Early retirement has numerous financial implications. First of all, you will need more money saved to carry you through the rest of your life. Without benefits, health insurance will be an additional cost until the age of 65. Finally, only at the age of 62 will you become eligible to receive social security. While money is important, it is not the only factor in deciding when to retire. If you are unhappy, suffering high stress, or developing health issues you should consider either changing your career or retiring.
To fully retire at 55, the average couple should have saved $638,700. This is based on a life expectancy of 85, a yearly retirement income of $48,000, and investment interest return of 6%. You might choose to work a part-time job. If you supplemented your income by $1,000.00 a month until age 70, their savings needed would be reduced to be $517,430.
If you google “most common age to retire”, you will find something similar to the screen shot below:
This information highlights that what age to retire varies tremendously and depends upon your unique situation. How much to save for retirement delves deeper into the financial equations of what the average American really needs to retire based on retirement age. To comfortably retire at 62 requires saving $430,000. If you were to have a part-time job earning $1,000.00 per month until age 70, your savings needed would be reduced to be $348,100.
At one time, 65 was the mandatory age of retirement. Legislation has changed this for most jobs, yet there are still strong social pressures that you should be retired.
By the age of 65, if you haven’t retired, you are likely contemplating retirement. Your financial situation has improved with all those extra years of work, increased social security payments, and Medicare coverage. For a full retirement, your savings need to be $364,000. More importantly, you may be thinking of all those things you really want to do that you have never had time to do. In addition, all those old aches and pains remind you that our time is finite.
You might be a career-oriented person that, quite simply, would be bored to death in retirement. Retirement is not for everyone. In other instances, without sufficient retirement savings, continuing to work may be your only realistic option. In fact, almost a quarter of Americans plan to never retire! Why you should never retire explores this growing trend. When you consider the skyrocketing healthcare costs, continuing increases in living expenses, and longer life expectancy, many of us may be at risk of outliving our savings.
In conclusion, what age to retire is a personal decision totally dependent upon your current situation.
Is retirement a slow death and the beginning of the inevitable decline? Why you should never retire began from a conversation I had with a friend. He argued quite passionately that he would not even consider retiring! That was the last thing on his mind. I started looking into it and doing some research on my own. After what I dug up, I have to agree that a very strong case can be made to remain employed and active.
Retirement is not for everyone. Most people need something fulfilling in their lives. Or they simply can’t afford to be without a paycheck. Within a year or so, the majority of retirees are re-entering the work world to either supplement their income and/or stave off boredom.
Originally, retirement was designed to get rid of older workers with diminishing productivity and replace them with fresh younger employees. Back in the day, average life expectancy was only slightly longer than the age of retirement so it didn’t cost much to put the old horses out to pasture. Typically, by 65 they were worn out and happy to live out their remaining days in retirement.
A lot has changed in the past few decades. Now, we live longer healthier lives and 65 is no longer the mandatory age of retirement. You might have believed that if you worked hard and did a good job, your employer would reward your loyalty and commitment. Not so much anymore as older employees have become a liability on the books. They cost too much in salaries, benefits, and need to be replaced. We observe widespread downsizing and outsourcing with intent to minimize costs and maximize profits.
Loyal Employees are an Organizations Most Valuable Asset.
The corporations are doing their best to force older employees out the door. Even to the point of offering packages to encourage them to leave. Although this is age discrimination (ageism), it is somehow justified because it increases shareholder returns. There are rare instances where more progressive companies value the experience, skills, and knowledge of their seasoned veterans.
Still, the dream persists that retirement is a good thing. The media bombards us with advertising portraying happy retirees taking vacations, buying retirement properties, and how you owe it to yourself to enjoy your “golden years”. It is portrayed as a reward to yourself after a lifetime of hard work.
Yet, this creates a dilemma as not everyone is prepared or even wants to retire. According to research by AP-NORC Center, almost a quarter (23%) of Americans don't plan to stop working ever. With increased life expectancy and rising costs, retirement is not always the rosy picture that we have been led to believe.
Are you looking forward to putting your feet up and losing all those work-related stresses and pressures? The novelty wears off real fast and many retirees will re-enter the workforce in some capacity. Based on figures from the Federal Reserve Board, over a 1/3 of those who retire will reverse retirement either on a part or full-time basis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that between 2014 to 2024, the labor force growth rate of 65 to 74 year old people is expected to be about 55%. This is in contrast with a 5% increase for the labor force as a whole.
These numbers surprised me and the trend appears to be growing. Apparently, retirement is not the bed of rose petals we expected or were led to believe. Whether you voluntarily retired or were forced into it, you may be contemplating what to do. It’s interesting to note that except when in dire financial need, baby boomers collectively are seeking interesting and fulfilling work opportunities. The challenge becomes how to leverage your skills and experience to find a job you enjoy. The following diagram may help understand the value you can offer.
All your life experiences, knowledge, work ethic, and specialized skills reflect the value you bring to the table. This may be sufficient to re-establish a career in your field of expertise. It may also identify an area that is holding you back. Think of the pyramid as your base to build upon. For example, with some networking you might evolve into a consulting role. Perhaps working only as many hours as you choose. Alternatively, with some training and new skills you might launch yourself into an entirely new, exciting career.
Before you pull the plug, is it worth discussing with your employer the option of coming back on a part-time or contract basis? Alternatively, this may be a discussion after the fact. You may be hesitant about jumping back into the rat race and prefer doing something that you really enjoy. It need not even be related to your previous career.A friend of mine became a “kitchen consultant” at one of those large hardware stores. Each day is new and exciting for him as he helps people design their new kitchens. With his strong communication skills, he connects with customers understanding their needs and creating a customized design they love. There are many interesting opportunities available out there that you may not have even considered. If you like being around people, become a driver for a shuttle or delivery services. Maybe becoming a tour guide would be more your thing? Understand that your experience and skills have value. There are options out there where you can earn money doing something you enjoy. More ideas are offered in what to do in retirement.
My perspective is that an encore career is a second career of something you have always wanted to pursue. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist and now is the time in your life where you can make that dream come true.
In fact, an encore career is getting paid for something that you like, believe in and is a worthy cause that helps others. Typically, these jobs are in the non-profit sector focusing on areas such as education, health, social services, and the environment. Even if a paid position is not immediately available, consider volunteering to “get your foot in the door”. You’ll gain valuable experience and skills that may pave your way to the perfect job.
With social media and the Internet, there may never have been an easier time to become your own boss. As a Boomerpreneur, you are in the unique position to leverage your skills and knowledge creating your own income stream.
A recent study by the Census Bureau and two MIT professors determined that the most successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle aged. Interestingly, a 59-year-old was 4.5 times more likely to succeed than a 25-year-old. The reasons are our experiences, social contacts, and financial resources as they provide distinct advantages in starting a business.
Starting a business is not for everyone, yet it can be very rewarding. You will need to determine a product or service that people value. It’s going to take a lot of effort, time and stretch your ability to learn new skills. Possibly an on-line business could be the best option to consider, particularly if you have health or mobility issues.
One of the greatest fallacies is that retirement will be good, maybe even wonderful. Yet, there are numerous reasons why you should never retire. Who wants to survive on a reduced income for the next 20-30 years, grieve the loss of friendships, combat loneliness and boredom, and risk skyrocketing medical costs that can wipe you out financially? To be blunt, most of us shouldn't retire because traditional retirement is an outdated concept that has outlived its purpose.
One of the greatest myths is that retirement will be marvelous and you’ll figure it out as you go. Far too many people slide into boredom, are lonely, and at risk of depression. In fact, according to a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs, the likelihood of depression goes up by about 40% after retiring.
The fundamental issue and challenge is replacing a 40-hour work week with something that you find interesting. Popular advice abounds with lists of hobbies or interests that you should pursue. While this sounds good, there are still an awful lot of bored people out there. The screenshot below captures a Google search for “retired and bored to death” with the top six things they suggest for combating boredom.
An acquaintance of mine retired to Florida to “live the good life”. Within two years, he had sold his Florida property and returned. As he explained, “I was bored and felt I was wasting my life away”.
Losing a paycheck is bad enough; however, there are a bunch of other things that work also provides.
Redefining your identity, finding purpose, and replacing the social interactions that work provided could prove challenging. As mentioned above, retirees are at higher risk of loneliness, and even depression, when these needs are not met.
With all due respect, you’ve probably never thought much about purpose and meaning. We have all rushed off to work each day for years and it’s not something that normally comes to mind. Even if you hated your job, it forced you to get moving each morning to earn that paycheck. Maybe, you took pride in your work and gained satisfaction in your accomplishments. In either situation, there was an intrinsic purpose gained through work. Once you retire, everything changes. For many retirees, their days become filled with meaningless activities, with the biggest decision being what to have for lunch or planning the trip to the grocery store. Happiness in Retirement provides further insights into finding purpose in retirement. It becomes a choice and is definitely not a given.
Another way to look at sense of purpose is offered by Neil Pasricha's "Four S's that will make you happier". These include social, structure, stimulation, and story.
Who are you? In our society our self-identity is generally based on what we do for a living. One of the most common questions when you meet someone new is “What do you do?” That question helps us gain reference into whom you are speaking with. While it shouldn’t matter, it seems that your importance as a person is often associated with your occupation. You worked hard and are proud of your accomplishments. Then it may feel like all this is stripped away as there is little status being retired in our North American culture.
Our identity should have many layers, such as being a loving wife / husband, mother / father, good friend, active community member, etc. Unfortunately, identity often becomes solely intertwined with your career. When you leave work, feelings of self-worth can plummet and you no longer feel important or valued.
One of the most difficult things about leaving work is the people you leave behind. After spending eight hours a day, five days a week we become quite attached to our “work friends”. Unfortunately, the day you retire the majority of them seem to dissipate into thin air. Without that daily contact, the common bond is gone. This also extends to suppliers and customers that you have worked with over the years.
While there may be a couple of people you keep in touch with, your circle of friends dramatically shrinks. One of the benefits of work is the social engagement you have with others. If you are sitting at home, you are at risk of feeling isolated and abandoned. We all have different wants and needs however this social interaction needs to be replaced.
There is very little appeal to living below the poverty line on social security. The primary reason so many contemplate never retiring is they have insufficient or no retirement savings. Being frugal and pinching every penny is does not make for a fun existence. For those that have saved, the financial experts suggest we can live comfortably on 70% of our previous earnings. This assumes your retirement is debt free and without a mortgage or car loan.
Most of us believe our costs will go down after retiring. For sure, some work-related costs will be reduced. These might include commuting costs, parking, fuel, car repairs, and possibly even reduced vehicle insurance. Unfortunately, your major costs will likely stay the same or increase over time with inflation. With all your new free time, there are likely lots of things you will want to do. Most people want to do some travelling which will dramatically increase expenses. Even day-to-day activities will add up quickly. Unless you sit at home and do nothing, you may very well find yourself spending more once you retire.
You may be one of the fortunate few that has consistently saved and feathered your nest egg for decades. It used to be that you earned a company pension, these are now a rarity. Financial planners generally recommend a minimum of 10 times your annual salary or even better, a minimum of at least $1 Million. Most of us have tried to put money aside, yet setbacks such as raising kids, career changes (even job loss), stock market fluctuations, and the housing market crash have limited our best intentions. Unbelievably, 45% of people have no retirement savings at all! For those with some savings, more than half have less than $250,000 (for more detail, see Baby Boomer Facts).
Almost three quarters of retirees will become solely dependent upon social security within several years. This system is already strained to capacity with concerns of the rapidly diminishing funds. According to the Social Security Administration, “As a result of changes to Social Security enacted in 1983, benefits are now expected to be payable in full on a timely basis until 2037, when the trust fund reserves are projected to become exhausted. At the point where the reserves are used up, continuing taxes are expected to be enough to pay 76 percent of scheduled benefits”.
Instead of retiring debt-free, we witness a growing trend of debt. According to Money.CNN, federal reserve data indicates average debt for those over 65 has ballooned 83% between 2001 to 2010. The Survey of Consumer Finances further reflect this alarming trend with an average debt of $31,300.00 in 2016.
The lack of savings and incurring significant debt has forced many to continue working. Also, we have become victims of the car industry through the financing of our vehicles. Reverse mortgages and borrowing against homes have further eroded their financial health. For those that have retired, their income may be fully stretched just covering their monthly costs. When unexpected expenses arise such as medical bills, prescriptions, vehicle repairs, etc., it may create credit card debt just to get by. This can quickly spiral out of control.
If you have health insurance through your employer, this is of immense value! We have all heard the horror stories of medical cost nightmares that financially ruined people. Understand that once you retire you are on your own. As we age, healthcare plans become increasing expensive. The annual cost of a mid range plan for a reasonably healthy 55-year-old is around $5,100.00 and increases to $6,300.00 by age 60. While Medicare kicks in at 65; it usually covers less than half of your medical bills. This situation will likely worsen as Medicare’s fiscal issues continue. Supplemental coverage should be considered.
Healthcare costs are skyrocketing and there is no relief in sight. According to Health Affairs “national health expenditures are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent for 2018 – 2027”. Perhaps you are wondering how that will affect you? According to Fidelity, the estimated cost of healthcare for a 65-year-old couple retiring today will be about $280,000.00 over the next twenty years. And that does not include nursing homes or long-term care.
Compared to previous generations, we can expect to live longer healthier lives. In the past, people retired at 65 usually passing away within several years. Now ,the average life expectancy has risen to 78. The interesting thing about average life expectancy is that it factors in all those that are gone. This means that if you are in reasonably good health, there is a good chance you will survive into your 80's, 90's, or even longer.
With the ongoing advances in medical treatment and healthcare improvements, longevity will continue to increase. This has many implications into your quality of life and stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Further, people who delay retirement or never retire tend to live longer than those who retire earlier. This might be explained by the fact they feel their life has greater meaning, they keep more active, and are socially engaged. One study by the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates a 5-6% increase in illness and 6-9% decline in mental health after retiring. Other adverse health effects include obesity, mobility, and depression. The key is to remain active, social and engaged.
In conclusion, the purpose of “why you should never retire” reflects that retirement is not the lifestyle for everyone. The reality is very few of us have properly prepared for the next twenty to thirty years. Instead of retirement being a happy life of leisure and fun, it could possibly become a life of misery. I’m not suggesting you should stay at a job you hate; rather find and do something you actually enjoy and can have fun.
Deciding where to live in retirement can be a very tricky decision and is “easier said than done” in most cases . The biggest pitfall is choosing the wrong place to live out your golden years. You might make the decision for all the right reasons, yet still find yourself unhappy or miserable. Compounding the matter could be that your significant other has completely different ideas on your retirement living arrangements. Unfortunately, this can become a very expensive decision to undo.
Fresh tears of frustration threatened anew. Every time it ended up in an argument! Oblivious to her misery, Matt snored in a deep sleep. It would be another sleepless night for her. It was all about his daughter who they only saw once a month at best. Rosie’s heart ached to be with her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Dallas was so far away and they were growing up so quickly.
Feeling completely torn, after almost five years of bliss, she had never felt so frustrated by the man she loved with all her heart! Why was he being so obstinate? They really could not afford the house after they retired. For the first time this evening, he admitted he was, also, concerned about finances. Stubborn pride made him re-mortgage after his divorce. Although their relationship had improved somewhat, his daughter remained aloof to him.
As she lay there, she realized it had come down to her son versus his daughter. This was going to destroy their relationship (and might lead to divorce) if some middle ground wasn’t found. Ideas whirled in her head. There were so many options they had never considered. She almost woke him to remind him how much she loved him and, together, they would figure this out.
We are all imperfect and can easily “get stuck” on an issue. The current communication pattern between Rosie and Matt prevents them from resolving their situation. She misses her son and grandchildren and wants to share more time with them. It is an emotional issue for her so it could appear she is attempting to impose her will upon Matt. After several such go rounds, it is understandable why Matt would do his best to avoid any more conflict. However, when she does bring up the matter, he immediately becomes defensive which creates further strain on their relationship causing more marriage problems.
A different approach is required if there is ever to be any resolution. You cannot change the other person so you have to change your methods. All it takes is for one of them to change how they communicate and there is a chance the other will respond in a more favorable way. Whatever the issue, as a couple, it is imperative to understand and be supportive of each other’s perspective. There is no right or wrong, only differing opinions. In many situations, the “issue” fades away with open discussion which paves the way to finding a fair compromise.
He pleasantly surprised her the following morning asking if they could talk on the weekend.
Matt began, “Rosie I’m afraid I’ll lose my daughter forever if we move”. On the tip of her tongue, she almost retorted that she was losing her son and grandchildren. However, the pain radiating out of his eyes stopped her and instead she simply reached for his hand. They talked late into the evening and the following day. They agreed it was about them and their happiness in retirement. Matt agreed they would downsize, but only after some renovations were completed to maximize the property value. Before any decisions were made, they would have discussions with his daughter and her son. In both situations, they wanted to include family in their lives.
Deciding where you are going to live once you are retired is fraught with risk. Stories abound of couples who became miserable after relocating to their so-called "retirement haven". They rushed into their perfect place only to realize they couldn’t stand the climate (Florida summers are hot), didn’t like their neighbors, or boredom set in with nothing interesting to do. These can be expensive decisions to undo and start over. There are a multitude of considerations that should be factored into your decisions before they are finalized.
Most of us have limited finances and cannot afford to make the wrong decision. If you are contemplating a major move out of state or even out of country, it may be wise to rent first rather than purchasing right away.
For example, a retired couple purchased a small home in South Carolina and renovated it just the way they wanted. It was in a sleepy little town. Unfortunately, they found the locals stuck together. They were “outsiders” so there was little opportunity to make new friends. Even worse, they were used to going out to cultural and music events. Simply, there was nothing for them to do. After trying to make a go of it for a year, they ended up selling it at a loss. In addition, they incurred more moving costs as well as real estate and legal fees. The experience cost them tens of thousands of dollars they could ill afford to lose.
The old adage “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is completely false when it comes to friends and family. Living nearby makes it much easier to visit and share good times. Friendships take effort and tend to fade when people move away.
In this day and age, it is common for families to be scattered across the country. Adult children and their families are typically caught up with work, school, and numerous other activities. You might plan a visit only to find everyone too busy to spend much time together.
Relieve flooded through Matt. After several heart-to-heart talks with his daughter, unresolved feelings were finally put to rest. Ruefully, he admitted to himself these discussions should have happened long ago. She understood his dilemma and fully supported any decision made on where to live in retirement. If they chose to relocate, she offered them her spare bedroom for visits. They were welcome to stay with her for a week or two. Additionally, this would give them an opportunity to catch up with friends.
Rosie’s son was equally supportive. However, he suggested holidays or summer months were better to visit as the kids were so active in school and sports. With that resolved, Rosie and Matt could delve deeper into their options.
One of the most common challenges is what to do in retirement. Everyday becomes like a weekend and now you have 40 plus free hours each week to fill. When considering where you will settle down , will your new place / location fulfill your interests? For instance, a retirement community may have many daily activities such as playing pickle ball, scrabble games, and what not. That might be great for some retirees, but your passion might be golf. Maybe woodworking is more your thing and you will require a well stocked shop.
A growing trend is for retirees to work part-time or volunteer. Primarily, this is to do something useful and have social interaction. For some, the extra pay is their “fun” money to do more of the things they enjoy. For others, it supplements their income. Thus, if you retire near a city, there will likely be many more opportunities than in a rural location.
Whether it be loading up the car or taking a flight to some exotic destination, do you want to travel? Can someone keep an eye on your residence? Your home insurance usually stipulates that someone needs to check on things at least every several days. In fact, if you will be away for extended periods it may be advantageous to have a house sitter.
Your lifestyle will also influence where you will live. Attending cultural events, theater, and dining out might be important to you. So living in a rural setting would not be ideal for you. Likewise, if you are a huge Celtic fan with season tickets, you’d probably be unhappy anywhere else than Boston. Then there’s your geographic preferences:
Depending upon your situation, there may be very good reasons to stay put. You may be happy where you are, the numbers work, and there is no compelling reason to live elsewhere. On the other hand, retirement is the opportunity to begin afresh. Some couples desire a warmer climate, more of a retirement community, or better access to amenities. It becomes a personal choice for each of us and this is the first hurdle many couples have to overcome to retirement happiness.
if you stay in place, the second piece of the puzzle will be how long will you live there. Home ownership comes with a lot of upkeep and expenses that will become more difficult to handle as the years slide by. Even mowing the lawn or traversing stairs will become daunting if mobility issues arise. If a medical issue strikes, everything can change rapidly, possibly, forcing relocation into a care facility.
Over the years, most of us accumulate stuff and it can become daunting to decide what and how to get rid of them. It’s painful at times to sell prized possessions for a fraction of what you initially paid. Then there are all the sentimental things we can’t bear to part with. All too often, those who retire in place have homes packed full. They may even have sheds that are equally full. Eventually, you or someone will have to deal with all these possessions.
Realistically, Matt figured they could have the house spruced up and ready to list by the spring. Sometimes Rosie joked that he owned more tools than “Tim the Toolman”. The reality was that after almost twenty years, he had to admit he had acquired an awful lot of stuff. What to sell (or give away) and what to keep?
Her pride and joy were her grandparents dining table and hutch. They were massively heavy units constructed out of solid black walnut. His back already ached thinking of the nightmare they would be to move.
If you prefer the city / region you live in, there are likely lots of options just around the corner. Although downsizing sounds like you are losing something (unused space and clutter), often you gain a residence that better suits you, your new lifestyle and is more manageable. It might be a smaller house, a townhouse, or a condo. Hopefully, it is in a convenient location that better caters to your present and future needs. This might include having closer access to medical facilities, public transport, or being within walking distance to shops and services.
Bubbling with excitement, Matt couldn’t wait to show her the new adult only complex. It was still in the building phase and only 20 minutes away. By placing a deposit, they would be able to pick exactly the features they wanted. The hardwood flooring would be the way to go, he mused. The open space concept with over 1300 square feet was perfect for them. Even better, it was affordable and they would finally be out of debt.
Although the show home was beautiful, Rosie had mixed feelings. Matt was absolutely enthralled and ready to put down their deposit. Her nagging fear was is this the best decision. She really wanted to be closer to her grandchildren and there might even be better places in Texas.
They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are connected with colleges to promote life long learning. Others may focus on golf and other activities. There may be options to upgrade into assisted living or nursing home care. These might be a great option for you, especially if your health is in decline. This is where you need to do your homework as no two are the same.
Never in her wildest dreams did Rosie think that choosing where to live in retirement could be so bewildering. Everywhere she looked there seemed to be an advertisement for a retirement community. They all promoted glowing images of how wonderful retired life was at their facilities and the varying levels of care available. The more she read, the better they sounded.
At least until she dug deeper and started to read reviews from real people. Now they started to sound rather expensive and not always delivering on their promises. One review in particular revealed how miserable and frustrated one couple had become. They spent their entire life savings to purchase their unit. Everything was going great until someone new moved in below them. The tenant was a smoker and they had all but given up using their balcony. The communal lawn area was littered with trash and no one even bothered to scoop up their dogs’ “nuggets”. Management was lax not enforcing any rules and absolutely nothing ran smoothly. She was quite certain this was not for her and Matt. At least, not for another ten or so years and only if they began to have health issues and required care.
States such as Florida and Texas are often touted as meccas for retirees. And no wonder, with year-round warm weather and a relatively low cost of living. Additionally, these states do not tax pensionable or social security earnings.
After some research, Rosie excitedly identified several smaller Texas cities not too far from Dallas. Property values were substantially lower and there appeared to be numerous areas catering to retirees. The slower pace of live and proximity of cultural events appealed to her. Matt was leery of such a drastic move and kept talking about those beautiful hardwood floors. Although, it did appeal to him leaving their miserable winters behind.
They were planning to visit her son next month. It was an ideal opportunity to see more of Texas. They would take an extra week to look around and Rosie eagerly planned their trip.
If you have ever been in Florida during a hot summer, you can appreciate why snowbirds don’t stick around. In many senses, they have the best of both worlds - staying home when it is nice and relocating when it gets colder. Unfortunately, everything costs money especially if two residences need to be maintained. When feasible, a more creative approach might be to rent out your home while you are away.
The smile never left Rosie’s face the entire visit. Her son unexpectedly took time off work to help them explore their retirement options. There was so much to see and Texas was so big. As much as Matt enjoyed it, he shriveled in the intense heat. Every day was stinking hot! That evening prompted a whole new discussion (for more detail, see Retirement for Couples). What were the rental options during the winter months? Property values were low and surely, they could find something reasonable.
Relocating to another country is not for the faint of heart. You may have read / heard that you can live comfortably on social security in some other countries. Tropical paradises such as Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, or even Asia are often bandied about. Idyllically, strolling along a sandy beach each evening sounds pretty good. An added bonus is that health care is a fraction of the cost.
While these are great places for a vacation, not everyone will enjoy retiring in these countries. Family and friends are far away and airfare can be expensive. The culture and lifestyle are dramatically different. You’re not going to find Starbucks or most of the amenities you are accustomed to back home. More so than any other option, you should consider living there for at least six months, test the waters, before investing in anything.
In conclusion, there are almost countless options on where to live in retirement. More than anything, it comes down to affordability and lifestyle preferences for each of us. Circumstances such as health issues may further necessitate change of residence further down the road. Consideration needs to be given to all the factors listed above. Definitely, open communication will help to make the decision easier. Your choice about your retirement location should be agreed upon together.