Aging Options

Can Retirement be “Dangerous”? Yes, if you’re Not Well Prepared

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Whenever you hear people discussing their retirement hopes and dreams, what’s the number one thing they seem to talk about? In our experience the answer is their finances. “I’ll retire when I can afford to,” they’ll say – or “I think my financial plan will allow me to retire next year.” This kind of one-dimensional, money-focused thinking is common, but it’s also reckless, “a recipe for disaster,” as we often call it. It simply doesn’t begin to go far enough.

Now we’ve found yet another helpful article, this one from the financial website MarketWatch, that makes this very point. It’s called “Why Retirement Can Be a Dangerous Time,” and it emphasizes very unambiguously that “you need more than a pile of money to make you successful” in retirement. Here’s how reporter Allessandra Malito puts it: “Getting your finances squared away is only one part of preparing for retirement — mental preparation is also crucial.” Malito adds, “So many Americans are not financially ready for retirement, but even when they do have the money for it, they may not be mentally prepared.”

We see this all too often, as working men and women labor feverishly to set aside enough money to retire, only to find that they’ve fallen for a dangerous delusion by failing to consider the rest of the retirement story.  Retirement itself can often be a major emotional shock. “Calling it quits after decades in the workforce,” says MarketWatch, “jolts people from their routines and causes them to lose their sense of self, studies show.” This problem is compounded when illness is involved, either for the retiree or for a loved one.  “Retiring too early, because of a disability, caring for a loved one, or a layoff, can cause depression and sickness, and even death.”  The retiree’s self-image suffers, and long-standing relationships with family and friends can become irrevocably changed once someone quits working. These are the aspects of retirement that too often go unexamined, and the ones that can prove dangerous when ignored.

We agree with the MarketWatch article up to a point but would add that this warning still doesn’t go far enough. As you’ve heard us say time and time again on our radio program, financial planning alone will not begin to ensure the type of retirement you’re hoping for. But sadly, neither will the kind of “emotional preparation” the MarketWatch article advocates. Our approach at AgingOptions, called LifePlanning, is the only retirement planning strategy we know of that covers all the major aspects of retirement and prepares you fully for what lies ahead. We’ll explain more in a moment and tell you how you can learn the rest of the story.

The MarketWatch article states that many retirees never fully “retire,” with about one in five reporting that they’re still working at least part time after their official retirement date. These days a huge number of workers – 75 percent, according to national studies – fully expect to go on working after retiring, maybe even transitioning into a true “second career.” Whether or not the hopes of these future retirees will be realized depends on several factors, including a healthy economy and an age-friendly job market; but it’s significant that so few workers anticipate entering what used to be called a “classic” retirement.

The MarketWatch article suggests that people tend to have a very narrow view of work, emphasizing only their paycheck. We’ve often noticed that, as people approach retirement age, they can sometimes adopt what the military calls a “short-timer’s attitude,” treating work as little more than a necessary evil. But for most of those still working, a job actually means far more than merely a paycheck and benefits.  When unprepared retirees lose the physical, mental, and social stimulation found in the workplace, research shows adverse health effects (psychological and physiological) often result. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, quoted in MarketWatch, says that measurable cognitive decline can begin to occur when people stop working and fail to engage mentally and socially. “It’s important in retirement to spark friendships and a new sense of community, since the old one in the office will be a part of the past,” says MarketWatch. And while retirement can mean more quality time with a spouse, both spouses need their own routines and activities apart from one another.  All these aspects of retirement need to be part of the conversation as you get ready for whatever lies ahead once you enter that next phase of life after full-time work.

But what’s missing? Here’s where you need the advice and guidance of the team at AgingOptions. Financial planning is essential for a solid retirement, but it must be done in conjunction with your housing plans. This in turn becomes intertwined with your medical planning, which can quickly encompass the need for careful preparation of your legal affairs. And without the involvement and support of your family, the best-laid plans can sadly degenerate into bickering and divisiveness. The answer to effective retirement planning is an AgingOptions LifePlan, a blueprint that incorporates all these elements and allows you to prepare for the type of fruitful and secure retirement you’ve always hoped for. With financial, legal, medical, housing and family planning all accomplished, you’ll find yourself far more prepared emotionally for whatever’s next.

Why not invest a few hours and find out more? Join us for one of our free LifePlanning Seminars with Rajiv Nagaich, held at convenient locations all throughout the Puget Sound region. There’s no obligation whatsoever. For dates, times and other details, simply click here, and then register online. If we can assist you by phone, call us during the week. As you look toward retirement, financial preparation is important, and so is emotional preparation. But in our experience the only preparation that will get you where you want to go is a LifePlan from AgingOptions.

(originally reported at

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