It’s likely that each and every one of us has at some point during our working lives longed for the day that we reach retirement. We imagine all the benefits of being able to spend our time as we choose – taking up new hobbies, spending time with loved ones and doing whatever it is that makes us happy.
But as with any significant life transition, not all aspects of retirement are positive and there may be hurdles to overcome. Amanda Attrell, Associate at law firm Rix & Kay and Head of their Later Life Team has compiled this Guide to the main considerations for later life.
School’s out… forever
Retirement normally signals a huge change in personal routine that has been a way of life for decades. The end of your career could signify a loss of purpose, identity and, of course, simply not having anything to do or anyone to talk to. It also means an end to a regular salary and, for most, having to rely on a reduced income.
People can struggle to adjust to retirement but the more resources that a person has, the better the adjustment tends to be. The key to obtaining better resources is planning and accepting that it is your responsibility to take charge and start taking action to help you achieve the happy retirement that you dreamed of.
Get your finances in shape
The most pressing issue is normally finances and there is a wealth of information available on the web to help you get things in order. In addition to making contributions towards and getting advice on how best to use your pension pot, paying off debts is an important part of pre-retirement planning. Make sure you trace any existing pensions, bank accounts or investments you may have made, especially if you have worked for numerous employers over the years. Take financial advice to make the most of the savings and investments you have and ensure that you claim your State Pension and any other benefits that you may be entitled to.
The Government’s money advice service provides free and impartial advice and a handy checklist for those planning for retirement.
Whilst you may have lost the regular social interaction of the workplace, now is an opportunity to strengthen connections with friends & family or find new social circles to interact with. If you are in a position where you are worried about a lack of social interaction then there are many support groups out there and often the best place to start is your local library. Joining local groups and clubs is an obvious thing to consider but there is a growing trend for retirees to re-educate or simply learn a new skill or language. Organisations such as the University of the Third Age are becoming more popular. There are also huge social benefits to volunteering that not only support others but can open the door to many new social relationships.
Rather than focusing on the things that you will lose by retiring, think about retirement as a time of reinvention. Balance out any losses with the idea of new opportunities and find a new focus to give you a sense of purpose. Don’t be afraid to seek out the support of family, friends or professionals where needed and use your newly found time to find activities that help to support your emotional wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the impact that social integration and close relationships can have on your overall health and wellbeing.
Health and wellbeing
Your lifestyle choices are likely to impact your health in retirement and it’s never too late to make positive changes. In general, what’s good for your heart is also good for the mind. Consider whether you can improve your diet and if you are engaging in regular exercise. Could you give up smoking or reduce your alcohol consumption? Are you getting enough sleep and engaging in activities that will help to keep your brain active? If you are taking prescribed medication make sure this is reviewed regularly. Whilst appointments with your GP may be difficult to arrange, some pharmacies now offer a free annual medicine review to people who are prescribed at least three medications and can liaise with your GP on your behalf with your permission.
Planning for the inevitable
At some stage, most of us will experience a decline of some kind in our physical or mental abilities and we may need support to manage our financial affairs or have to consider adapting our living arrangements. The most important thing to remember is to plan early and remove the stress of having to deal with such issues when you may not be in the best position to do so.
Think about making a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs so that your estate is well managed and benefits the right people when you are no longer able to look after these matters yourself.
Consider making an Advance Decision and/or a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney and discuss the type of care or medical treatment that you would wish to receive in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes at a later date.
Look at your options when it comes to your living arrangements. Is your current property suitable in the long term? What local amenities are available and how would you access these if you were no longer able to drive? Where are your children or support network living and would it make sense to relocate closer to them at some stage? If you require care at some point in the future then what type of care would you like to receive and how will this be funded?
Amanda Attrell is Head of Rix & Kay’s specialist Later Life Team who support individuals and their families who wish to get their personal and financial affairs in good order as they plan for their later years. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org