Do you want to know a secret? Relationships are the key to a successful retirement. Well, relationships and good health. These two things are far more important than your stock portfolio or real estate investments.
You might be surprised to hear this from a bunch of financial advisors, but hey - we call ‘em as we see ‘em. Humans are social animals - we are literally hard-wired to connect with other beings. That’s why close, positive relationships keep us healthy and happy, longer - and why building up your social wealth is part of a well-rounded retirement savings plan.
Recent studies suggest loneliness and isolation account for as much as:
- 50% percent higher risk of dementia
- 29% increased risk of heart disease
- 32% increased risk of stroke
It’s a good thing retirement gives you the time to make friendship a priority!
3 Ingredients for Cultivating Quality Relationships
Given the ebbs, flows, and transitions of life, we all need to rebuild social wealth at some time or another. We suggest you think about how you can change, build, and expand your relationships in retirement.
The first step to forging new relationships is to put yourself in an ideal environment. There are many factors that make it easier to form new and lasting relationships. Three of them are:
- Proximity - Living close by makes it easier to get together
- Spontaneity - Repeated, unplanned interactions provide easy opportunities to spend time with and connect to others
- Safety - People and places that encourage individuals to interact, build trust, and be vulnerable
Think about the people in your life. If you have neighbors, gym buddies, or other acquaintances you’d like to get to know better, how are your interactions with them? The presence of safety, proximity, and/or spontaneity makes it easier to bring them into your Circle of Friendship.
Rethinking your Relationships in Retirement
These days, you’re less likely to meet people serendipitously at the college dorms, the kids’ soccer game, or the office. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rich social calendar. As you approach retirement, you may want to become more strategic about how and where you meet people.
Form Intergenerational Relationships
Hanging out with people younger than you is good for the brain. It exposes you to new views and ways of doing things. Researchers have identified that retirees who interact with people of all ages, especially elementary-age children, enjoy reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as a lower mortality rate.
So, make friends with your neighbors. Become a mentor or confidant. Be someone’s favorite honorary grandparent (or, if possible, spend time with your own grandchildren). Volunteer at a local school or community center.
Adopt a Pet
Loneliness has clearly been associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other negative outcomes. However, people who own pets tend to be less lonely and more active. If you’re not a pet person, that’s fine. But if you are, furry friends can be a source of joy and unconditional love. Dogs, especially, are great motivators to get you out of the house and potentially meet other pet owners.
Pick Up a Hobby
Meet people who like doing what you do. Choose an activity that makes you happy and meets your physical needs. It could be something active like dancing, yoga, hiking, Zumba, water aerobics, or walking. Or maybe you prefer art, singing, or a book club? Whatever it is, you can probably find a class at a local YMCA or community center. Classes are a great way to meet people of all ages, too.
Use Social Media to Connect
Social media can be a great place to rekindle relationships. Track down old college friends or even family members you may have lost touch with … just be careful you don’t end up playing Candy Crush Saga for hours!
- You can also leverage Facebook to find like-minded people and interesting things happening near you. Try playing around with the search feature within the Groups and Events sections.
- Meetup.com has a whole category of groups for seniors around the world. People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s meet for drinks, outdoor activities, crafting, dancing, and more.
Value the Relationships You Already Have
With all this talk about building new relationships, don’t forget to recognize, value, and nurture the ones you already have. And to acknowledge that the most important relationship you have in this life is with yourself.
- When you interact with a cashier, the gardener, or any other service professional, fully acknowledge them. Look them in the eye. Smile and learn their name. Although the relationship may be transactional, you can enrich your day and theirs by fully giving them your attention.
- For couples, retirement is a perfect time to work on your relationship. Retirement is an adjustment and your relationship may need some TLC. Be prepared to communicate your needs, compromise, and confront bad behaviors - both yours and your partner’s!
- Retirement offers the chance to find out who you really are. Many retirees find comfort and peace in things like mindfulness practice, yoga, meditation, and taking time to be grateful.
The takeaway? Forming new relationships as you age may take extra effort - but it’s worth it for a successful retirement. At Wealth Legacy Institute, we help you prepare for the long-term, with a retirement plan that considers both your financial goals and your ideal retirement lifestyle.
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