It wasn’t all that long ago that many people considered the TV ads pitching reverse mortgages to be just a scam against senior citizens and that actually getting a reverse mortgage was a very foolish move. But many protections have been put in place in recent years and, as a result, a better understanding has evolved on the ways in which a reverse mortgage might genuinely make sense as a way to supplement retirement income. The keyword here is “might.”
You forgot to send your daughter-in-law a card for her birthday last week. You can never remember where you left the car keys. You’re watching the rerun of a TV show you know you saw before but you can’t remember who did the murder. Someone in your book group mentions a book you all read three months ago and you’re drawing a blank on the title.
We all go through this and much, perhaps most, of it is perfectly normal. We laugh and call them “senior moments,” acknowledging that an aging brain brings its vexations. Yes, it can be very annoying to not have the right information pop up just when we need it, even though it is part of human nature – at all ages – to forget things from time to time. But for many of us, perhaps too many of us, our forgetfulness has become seriously worrisome. Is it the first sign of real dementia?
Before retirement, it is not unusual to think how great it will be to not have to get up every day for work, to have a lot more free time, and to have opportunities to really relax and enjoy life. You may dream about living in a warmer climate or in a smaller house that doesn’t need as much cleaning and maintenance. You may be looking forward to a lot of travel that you’ve never had the time to do or to spending more time with your grandchildren. It is time to have fun! Unfortunately, the reality of retirement doesn’t always work out this way.
You may have sufficient financial resources to live comfortably after you stop working, but it is important to also think about all of your other needs to create a satisfying life. It doesn’t happen automatically or all by itself.
There are some pitfalls to avoid.
Bill and I started traveling regularly shortly after we were married in 1970. The university I worked at then was just getting into the alumni-travel business and the person who was organizing the first trip was a good friend who wanted some moral support for this great experiment. We got to go to Copenhagen for ten days for $299 each, including hotel, airfare, most of our meals, and lots of extras. Pretty amazing in itself, but it also sparked a life-long love in both of us for the adventure and fun of travel.
At this age, many of us are dealing with health issues. Some are small and manageable, others large and not so easy to manage, but inevitably both the number of issues and their severity are growing. Our bodies are becoming more frail, our resistance to things like the flu is weakening, and we may be trying to cope with the challenge of dealing with more than one illness at a time – Barrett’s esophagus and diabetes anyone?
As depressing as all of this may be, there is one thing that surpasses it all. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls. And even worse: every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Whether you think of your retirement as a permanent vacation or as a major source of stress, there is one element that will make it better, absolutely guaranteed: connections to other people. And the stronger those connections are, the better your whole retirement experience will be.
I didn’t always believe this. I used to believe that when my husband dies, I will lose all interest in the world and just become a hermit. I had visions of taking up gardening in my backyard, well away from other people, using my husband’s ashes to help my orchids bloom (I have always hated gardening). I had other visions of joining a secluded convent, walking silently through narrow and dark corridors, with no communication except a nod to another sister to ask for the salt at mealtimes. Well, maybe some sacred singing – my model was Diana Rigg as Sister Philippa in In This House of Brede.
As we went dutifully through our work lives, and if we thought about retirement at all, we became aware of some rules of thumb meant to give us guidance for financial planning. For years, we were pretty much bombarded with adages such as,
Welcome and Happy New Year! This is going to be an exciting and wonderful year; I can just feel it. I’m so glad you have decided to join me on this journey – retirement can be the best part of your life and I’d like to help you make it so.
Over time, I’ll be covering a lot of ground in these posts. Here’s an interesting exercise: Do a Google search for “retirement advice.” By far, the vast majority of websites that come up will be about the financial aspects of retirement. Of course, that’s important, but that’s not all there is to it!
I'm Linda. My husband and I were lucky enough to retire when we were 61, about nine years ago. We love being retired and want to share all that we've learned over the years about this wonderful stage of life.