Recently I was having coffee with a friend. While we were talking, he asked me a rather unusual question.
That question was: ‘What did I think people approaching retirement, and those already retired, feared the most?’
It got me thinking.
In my day job I work with a lot of financial planners that have clients who range in age from their 20’s, right through until their 90’s. It is a very wide demography.
And naturally, a good swag of those clients is probably aged 50 plus. What we might call pre-retirees, new retirees and mature (or experienced) retirees.
But, what do they fear?
- The first thing that sprang to my mind was the fear of not having enough money, and perhaps the fear of the money ‘expiring’ before we expire.
It has been suggested that perfect financial planning is having your cheque to the undertaker bounce!
But then, we move on from the financial fears and start to look at emotional fears.
- What about loss of relevance?
We go from being a business owner, executive, professional, or a CEO one day, to a retiree the next. No matter who we are and what we did, adapting to retirement is going to be a challenge for many people as they re-frame their life and adapt to their new role.
- What will I do with my time?
Many retirees say they simply don’t know how they ever had time to work. They are simply so busy. They, I believe are the lucky ones. But for every busy retiree, there is probably another that is bored, lonely and simply doesn’t know what to do to fill in their time. They simply ‘fiddle’ around and lead a life that lacks direction.
- Becoming single –resulting from the loss of a life partner is perhaps one of the biggest fears that many older folks have.
Perhaps they have been together for forty, fifty, or even sixty or more years. And then one is gone. And it is not only the loss of a spouse that can be devastating, it is also the loss of family and friends as well. Ageing can be so cruel. Include younger people in your circle of friends.
- Ageing itself – with age comes the illness, disability, and a loss of independence.
As our minds and bodies age, the things we used to do so easily become a real chore. We simply slow down to the point where life becomes a real drag.
Perhaps a lifelong commitment to some form physical and mental exercise will stave off the onset of debilitating physical and mental decline.
- And finally, many fear what the government might do to make the lives of retirees a little more miserable.
With an ageing population, the costs associated with providing pensions, health and aged care continue to spiral and present an ever-increasing challenge for any government. As sure as you are reading this, change will occur. However, in the scheme of things, we have very little control over what a government may do in the future.
The expression attributed to national security, ‘be alert, but not alarmed’ rings true today, in different contexts, including living in retirement. We need to be informed, however, let’s not get too stressed out by what may never happen.
So, do retirees have fears? Yes, they do, but have I missed any? Feel free to leave a comment and share your fears, and also your strategies to overcome them.5