Written by Sally Perkins
Retiring is more than just finding things to do with your time and having enough money to live well. A happy retirement also depends on who you’re spending that precious time with. Research has found that friends tend to matter more than family members when it comes to good health. A study from the University of Michigan asked 271,053 participants about happiness, health, and relationships, and found that while relationships with family members had a fixed effect on health, valued friendships improved people’s functioning and well-being as they got older. Although it’s easy to fall into the trap of going separate ways from your friends as life takes you in different directions, it’s important to maintain friendships during retirement.
Here are five friends everyone should have for a happier, healthier retirement.
The Childhood Friend
Research by the Psychology Bulletin found that friendship networks reach a high in one’s twenties, but these social circles get smaller with age. If you’re lucky enough to still have friends from childhood and early adulthood, you should hold onto them dearly. These friends can help to keep you youthful with the memories you’ve created over the years. They also know you more than other types of friends, which means they make great confidantes and company on lonely days. Research from the University of California, San Francisco, tracked 1,600 people around the age of 71 and found that lonely people experienced difficulties with daily activities, while they also had higher levels of mortality. Scarily, almost 23 percent of them died within six years, compared with the 14 percent who weren’t lonely. Reach out to your old friends – it’ll save your life!
The Hobby Friend
Having a friend who loves to try new things and has lots of hobbies could be very good for you by increasing your interests. Studies have found that when people in retirement had three or four hobbies, they were happier than people with fewer hobbies. The hobbies that increased people’s happiness included volunteering, golf, and travel. This is because hobbies that encourage social interaction are better for people than hobbies that can be pursued alone, such as reading. Being social and learning new things is great to maintain brain health as you get older. Another study found that being highly social reduces your dementia risk by 70 percent! So go on and call up your friend who loves to play a round of golf or holiday in Hawaii.
The Financially Savvy Friend
Everyone has a friend who knows all the latest business and finance trends. This friend might be older than you with lots of life experience. He/she is especially valuable to you they’ve been retired for a while as they can help you make the transition into retirement much smoother. They’ll be clued up on things like protecting your family’s future. This might not seem important in the early days of your retirement happiness, but it is. By having someone who’s gained experience when it comes to the financial aspects of retirement, you’ll experience less stress.
A study by the University of Michigan monitored elderly people for nine years to find out what they worried about. It was found that the frequency and intensity of their worries increased dramatically for all of them over nine years. Common worries for the elderly included the health of, and difficulties related to, family members. The reason for the increase in worry, the study found, was linked to the seniors feeling they had less control in life. By ensuring your financial portfolio and insurance are sorted out, you can decrease worries related to the financial well-being of your family, which puts you in greater control of your life.
In another study by Cornell University, when researchers asked 1,200 elders what their biggest life regrets are, many said they wished they had spent less time worrying. By taking action on the things you worry about, such as money and insurance, with the help of your financially savvy friend, you can spend less time worrying and more time living!
The Worker Bee Friend
Ideally, you don’t want to feel the pressure to continue working into your retirement to make ends meet. That can be very stressful. However, with lots more time on your hands, it might be a good idea to pursue the types of jobs that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for. That’s why a friend who’s continuing to work in odd jobs that make her happy is a great inspiration to you. Not only will you be inspired to stay busy but you’ll be making wonderful use of the gift of spare time given to you. Choose something that you’re really passionate about. The money you earn from it is just a bonus. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that when people in retirement had temporary or part-time jobs, they experienced fewer major diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, when compared to people who completely stopped working when they retired.
There are many benefits to having friends such as the above when you retire. They’ll keep you young, support you, keep you active and remind you to chase your passions, proving that retirement is the perfect new beginning to start living life your way!