O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 29 July, 2020

Retirement - do not look back with anger!

Nearly every Saturday at 11.30am, Donna (my partner), Scout (my dog) and I visit my mum in the aged care facility where she now resides.

Prior to COVID-19, visiting mum meant we were able to take her for out for coffee or to the shops, which she enjoyed immensely. It was a distraction and provided her with a glimpse of what her life was when she was healthier and more independent.

During this time of COVID-19, taking mum out has become difficult and not an experience that she likes or understands. The aged care facility asks that she wear a mask when she is out, and on her return to the facility, her contact with the other residents is restricted for a period of.

It is no longer an enjoyable experience for her, nor a time in the week that she looks forward to.

My mum has dementia, and unfortunately she does not understand what is happening or why her movements are being restricted.  She becomes depressed, angry, and bitter with her life, which is understandable.

Do I think this will happen to me as I grow old? Will I become angry with the world as my health declines? Bitter and depressed because I have not done or remember doing all the items on my bucket list?

To be honest, I do not know. It maybe something I have no control over, but I can try to take all the steps I am able to ensure it does not happen.

I am sure we all know people in the later stages of life who find that their health is now restricting their options. They find that they no longer have the energy or the physical ability that they had in their 50s, 60s and even their 70s. For some people, this can become a time of bitterness and despair, as they believe they have not lived their life to its’ full potential.

The decline of a person’s health as they age is very difficult to stop. You can take steps before it begins, by eating right, not smoking, possible drinking less and being active, to help slow the process; but the reality is that as you reach your 80s and into your 90s, for the majority of people their physical abilities and their strength will diminish.

So, what can you do to ensure that when this does happen that your life in your 80s and 90s is not filled with feelings of bitterness and regret? How do you build a plan so you aren’t constantly thinking, “if only I had acted earlier and understood what retirement and this stage of your life was all about”.

The stage of your life after your working life requires a plan, and no, I am not talking about a financial plan. In your retirement you need to have a “purpose”  and a plan to achieve this “purpose”. This “purpose” will be different for every person, depending on your finances and interest but you need to have at least one. 

As PK and I have often remarked, walking to the corner store, buying the paper and a coffee and then coming home to watch television, is not a “purpose”.

It does not matter whether it is travel - becoming a grey nomad, living overseas for a period of time (all which are restricted at the moment) - doing volunteer work, or learning a new skill, people should not leave their working lives behind until they understand what they are going to do in this next stage of life. 

Having a “purpose” and plan is important as it provides the stimulation required to keep you healthy both physically and mentally. 

It is important to be realistic in your planning, understand how many dollars you require to pay your weekly bills and then ensure you have enough left over to achieve your purpose and dream in retirement. 

This stage in your life is just as important as all the other stages of your life. It is a period of time that could cover more than thirty years. It is a long time to live with regrets of what you didn’t do, or should have done, because there was no thought or plan put into this period.

As they say, “do something today.” Start thinking about how you want to live your retirement and what you will need. Don’t  wait until the day you finish work.

I am sure that your grandchildren (if you have them) would much rather listen to someone with tales of a wonderful and adventurous life over a person who is continually complaining about the things they did not do.

Develop a plan. Understand what you do want to achieve in retirement and talk to someone about how you are able to achieve the financial goals required to ensure your dreams do come true.

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