secrets to a happy
Investments aren’t the only thing that should be diversified in retirement; you’ll also want to pursue a balanced portfolio of activities. That’s because research shows retirees are more fulfilled when they stay engaged. Here are five ways to do just that.
Pursue a passion
Whether it’s turning a hobby into a small business, trying out a new career field or exploring some short-term gigs, more retirees are choosing to continue to work in some capacity.
One excellent reason? A sense of purpose helps maintain physical function in older adults, potentially adding more healthy years to their lives. In fact, working just one year past 65 can lower the risk of death by 11%.
Association Between Purpose in Life and Objective Measures of Physical Function in Older Adults, JAMA Psychiatry, October 2017; Association of retirement age with mortality, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, September 2016.
4 in 5 workers plan to work in retirement because they want to stay active and involved.
88% of new entrepreneurs ages 55 to 64 create a business by choice instead of necessity – a percentage that’s higher than any other age group.
Source 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey, Employment Benefit Research Institute; “The New Adventures of Older Entrepreneurs,” Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, Aug. 15, 2019.
Interested in starting a business after retiring?
Need more guidance about self-employment options?
For free online coursework, go to the “Learning Center” at SBA.gov.
Find “Work for Yourself at 50+” resources and a toolkit at AARPfoundation.org.
Staying physically fit can contribute to a longer retirement with potentially fewer chronic health issues. Whether it’s burpees or Zumba, physical activity prevents chronic disease, lowers the risk of dementia, increases perceived quality of life, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and provides opportunities for social interaction.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition: Older Adults, CDC, 2018.
4 in 5 of the costliest chronic conditions among adults 50 years or older can be prevented or managed with physical activity.
Experts say 150 minutes is the target amount of time per week older adults should spend on moderate-intensity physical activity.
Source “Adults Need More Physical Activity,” CDC, March 23, 2019.
Want recommendations on physical activity for adults age 65 and older?
Learn the latest age-group guidelines at CDC.gov.
Looking for a personalized approach to fitness?
Search for personal trainers in your area who hold senior fitness specialist or medical exercise specialist certifications at ACEfitness.org.
Now that they can study what they choose, many retirees take advantage of college, community and online courses in areas of interest. That’s great because research shows that continued participation in lifelong learning can help offset cognitive decline.
“Lifelong learning in active ageing discourse: its conserving effect on wellbeing, health and vulnerability,” Ageing and Society, April 2018.
72% of adults age 50+ believe it’s important to take educational classes to maintain or improve brain health.
4 in 5 older adults are engaging in activities they think are good for brain health.
Source AARP Survey on Brain Health, AARP, 2015.
Want to explore a network of on-campus learning?
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute sponsors programs for people 50+ at more than 100 US university and college campuses; find a location near you at NRC.northwestern.edu.
Interested in learning from your home base?
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are free or low-cost university courses packaged for online audiences. Use keywords to search for course topics on sites like Coursera, edX and Udacity, or use the search engine at ClassCentral.com.
Give to others
Volunteering, mentoring and applying skills to do good is a popular post-career pursuit. And evidence shows these types of activities may significantly slow the cognitive decline of aging in adults age 60 and older. What’s more, the benefit can occur with as little as two hours per week.
“Impact of volunteering on cognitive decline of the elderly,” The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, November 2018.
Adults age 65 and older spend 94 hours a year volunteering (more than any other age group).
3 out of 4 adults who volunteer say doing so made them feel physically and emotionally healthier.
Source “Volunteering in the United States,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015; “Doing Good Is Good for You Study,” VolunteerMatch, UnitedHealthcare, 2017.
How can you find volunteer work that suits you?
Connect to 127,000 community-based organizations for volunteer and mentor opportunities at VolunteerMatch.org.
Searching for new ways to use your skills for the greater good?
Learn about matching your professional experience with social purpose organizations for high-impact duties at Encore.org.
Explore new places
Travel – often high on many retirees’ wish lists – replaces the daily routine with new surroundings and experiences, which can boost mental health. Travelers report being significantly more satisfied about their wellbeing than non-travelers. And even planning a trip brings more happiness than anticipating the purchase of a material thing, like a new car.
“Journey to Healthy Aging: Planning for Travel in Retirement,” Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and Global Coalition on Aging, 2013; “Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases,” Psychological Science, 2014; “For a More Creative Brain, Travel,” The Atlantic, March 31, 2015.
Baby Boomers took four to five leisure trips this year and spent more than $6,600.
94% of them traveled domestically this year; 53% traveled internationally.
Source 2019 Boomer Travel Trends, AARP Research Report, November 2018.
Hoping to combine travel and education?
Check out the mission of the nonprofit experiential learning organization RoadScholar.org.
Need advice on staying healthy while you travel?
Review comprehensive travelers’ health information at CDC.gov.
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© January 2020 The Kiplinger Washington Editors Inc.