Aging Options

It’s Not About the Money: Top Tips for a Happy Retirement Lifestyle

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Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments is a nationally known financial expert, author of almost a dozen books about money, and one of the top 200 wealthiest people in America. So when Fisher comes out with what he calls his favorite tips for retirees, you might expect them to be all about finances, right? Well, you might be surprised.

“Is retirement near?” Fisher asks in this article that appeared recently on the pages of USAToday. “Are you among the 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 daily? It’s exciting, yet daunting — freedom tainted with dreaded aging. Here are my four favorite lifestyle tips for happy retirement, culled from decades of working with retired folk.”

There’s no question that, when Fisher talks, people listen. His company, Fisher Investments, boasts more than 35,000 high net-worth clients plus about 175 large institutional clients. His firm (at last report) manages nearly $90 billion in client funds. So it’s a bit refreshing for us at AgingOptions that none of his four top retirement tips involve money – at least, not directly. We have read too many articles and heard too many so-called experts claiming that the key to happy retirement is having plenty of cash and investments, but we’ve also heard a similar number of stories of retirees who had plenty of money but lived unhappy and unfulfilling lives. The key to fulfillment in retirement, in our opinion, is careful and comprehensive planning. We’ll say more about that in a moment.

But first, what are Ken Fisher’s four top retirement tips from USAToday? Let’s look briefly at each one.

Fisher’s first tip for a happy retirement is to manage your health. This, he says, means at the very least that you follow your doctor’s advice and get screened for possible health risks, including some that may be less well known. But it also means taking special precautions against such age-related conditions as falling down. Don’t be embarrassed about feeling more vulnerable as you age, Fisher advises his readers, and don’t be afraid to talk about it.  “The Centers for Disease Control estimates one-third of retirement age adults fall annually, often incurring injury,” Fisher writes. Among those over 80, as many as half will suffer a hip fracture, and of those half will die from pneumonia. In spite of these sobering statistics, “few speak up, fearing they’ll lose independence,” Fisher says. “Without help they get more sedentary and weak, and that could mean even more falling. Don’t let that be you.”

Fisher’s second tip is to choose your best place to live. But, he warns, watch out for those “best retirement cities” lists: “They’re mostly focused on weather and cost of living — important, but not everything. What fun is a warm, cheap retirement if it’s lonely?”  The important thing is to consider carefully what truly matters to you and then choose accordingly. “Ponder the lifestyle you covet,” Fisher says, “then find out where it’s abundant.” But you should definitely try out any new community first by renting before you buy. There’s too much money and aggravation at stake to risk a premature home purchase. And before you relocate, remember that about 7 of 8 retirees stay put in their familiar communities, deciding that, as Fisher says it, “A lifetime of social connections is irreplaceable.”

Fisher’s third retirement tip is to pick the right home – something we agree with since housing is a critical part of retirement planning. This is about much more than deciding whether or not to downsize. “Some folks buy their retirement dream home in the town they treasure, but in some isolated neighborhood they soon hate,” says Fisher. “That’s [even] more annoying once you stop driving.”  As you decide what type of housing is best for you, you need to think ahead and anticipate what your needs will be a decade or two from now. Assuming you’ll be able to age in place where you live today without planning for needed modifications and upgrades for tomorrow is a potentially foolish and costly oversight.

Finally, Fisher shares what he calls “the most important of these four”: Fill your time with fun. This may sound painfully obvious but it’s something too many people, consumed with watching their investments and monitoring their affairs, can easily overlook. When we quit working and enter retirement we often lose something – our occupation – that gave us purpose.  It’s vital that retirees fight back against depression by volunteering, working part-time or taking up a hobby. “Check out community college course catalogues,” Fisher suggests, or “find groups for biking, hiking, jogging, tennis or dancing.”  If you’re close to a loved one who seems to be depressed or discouraged about entering retirement, they may need a healthy dose of encouragement from you to help them embrace their new lifestyle with a fresh sense of engagement.

Fisher’s list is fine as a basic starting place but it’s certainly not enough. At AgingOptions, we help clients achieve their retirement dreams with a comprehensive planning strategy we call LifePlanning, an approach that combines all the critical facets of retirement into one over-arching plan. These elements – finances, housing, medical, legal and family – all have to work together in order to ensure that you can protect your assets in the future, avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, and escape the trap of being institutionalized against your wishes. Why not take an important first step in 2018 and find out more? Join Rajiv Nagaich early in the New Year for an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar. You’ll find all the details plus convenient online registration here, and if you need assistance or have questions please call our office during the week.

So go ahead and follow Ken Fisher’s advice: watch your health, choose your town, pick your home and have some fun – but don’t forget the best advice of all: build your retirement on the foundation of an AgingOptions LifePlan. Age on!

(originally reported at


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