How Do You Rate Your Retirement?

If you were to give the retirement life you have been living to this point a grade – like back in school – would you be looking at an “A” for excellent or a “C” for average or (hopefully not) an “F” for failure? There are a lot of variables – maybe it’s better to go with pass/fail. It’s not always easy to live the retirement of our dreams. I think the bottom line is are you happy with your second act or is there room for improvement? And if there is room for improvement what can you do to raise your grade?

I have been retired full time about five years now. Most readers of LoveBeingRetired are familiar with the story of my fall from grace in the tech start-up world that left me prematurely job free well before anticipated. Sometimes you have to accept harsh reality which for me was I was too old (at 53!!) to do a worthy job within my chosen career at least according to the hiring powers. I am not bitter (well not overly bitter) but it was an unexpected turn of events to say the least.

Looking back at these years in retirement I find myself reliving a myriad of emotions:

– The fear I was totally unprepared for the decades of “independence” ahead.

– The self-doubt following months spent unsuccessfully trying to get back into the working world.

– The nagging concern over finances.

– Then the glimmer of possibilities as I began getting used to my new lifestyle and actually enjoying it.

– And now the hopeful expectation for all that is still to be.

St. Chapelle spires

Before assigning a grade to my retirement or yours there are a few questions worthy of consideration.

Do you find meaning in your life? Many find their justification for being in the job they do. Once separated from that daily endeavor they struggle to find that same feeling of worth.  If you can’t find worthwhile endeavors beyond the job retirement can feel empty. It becomes difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed each morning – what is the purpose? But if you have reasons, motivations, passions that excite you each day can offer new opportunity. You don’t have to stick to the same road that led you here. Try new things, branch out, cut loose and do what feels good. Finding meaning is very personal and no two paths are exactly the same. How would you rate your current situation?

Do you have plans for the future? I have found having goals keep me moving forward. Retirement need not be the end of aspirations. Glen Frey of the Eagles said, “People don’t run out of dreams; people run out of time.” Retirement offers precious time to do what you want to do. Whether your passion is travel or learning, reading or writing, painting or singing, the time you need to explore new directions is now yours. What do you see yourself doing tomorrow? Next month? Next year?

What would you change about your situation? Back in the day we worked hard to earn those all-important “A” grades. It makes sense that it takes similar effort to boost our retirement rating to an honor roll worthy level. And while a report card full of “A”s as a student may have been awesome a stellar retirement rating means you are on track to live the best second act possible. Are there areas requiring attention to realize the best retirement possible? Can you fine tune your lifestyle to increase the likelihood of living a fulfilling retired life?

What are the best things about being retired? Sometimes life feels a bit heavy as we strive to address various challenges such as aging or unwelcome money issues or living without clear direction or struggling with boredom. Occasionally we may find that old Ben Franklin comparison of pluses versus minuses tipping in the wrong direction. As an inveterate optimist I typically see the glass half full. I have found worrying has no impact on the outcome of events. No matter how I fret good things and bad things happen. Why not face the future like Frank Sinatra who sang “The best is yet to come.” And those best of moments are sometimes found in the least likely of circumstances.

What are your plans for your continuing education? Just because we haven’t been to class for years does not mean we are no longer capable of learning. With the free time retirees enjoy the opportunity presents itself to pursue areas that interest us rather than are required of us. Your second act can be the right time to learn more about what you love without the stress of final exams. Put that mind to work. Keep yourself engaged and challenged. You are never done learning.

Are you happy? At the end of the day when you glance into the mirror do you see a smiling face looking back? If you do, give yourself an “A” for making your retirement work. That is what is all about right, finding happiness and fulfillment and enjoyment each day. Whatever path you discover, whatever steps and missteps you take, wherever your journey leads you if when it is all said and done you feel positively about how your time is being spent you are doing just fine. As a matter of a fact, feel free to do more of the same!

Each of us has the power to influence the quality of our retired life. With some work hopefully we can improve a less-than-stellar grade to something closer to an “A”. Why settle for average when you can be excellent. When you think about it, now that you are retired is there a more worthy focus for your attention?

LoveBeingRetired.com

Independence and Aging – Tools That Can Help

Written by Jessica Hegg

Independence comes in a lot of shapes and sizes for seniors. For one 65-year-old couple living on their own in the house in which they raised their family, independence might mean getting to stay in that house til their final days. For a 76-year-old man in an assisted living facility, independence might mean being able to care for himself, feed himself, and get out for walks and visits without assistance. No matter what independence in your Golden Years looks like to you, these tips and tools can help:

Mobility Tools

Using assistive devices to aid your mobility doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your independence. On the contrary, mobility aids and assistive devices can empower your self-reliance, making it easier to get around your own home and even help prevent falls.

At the first sign of leg or foot weakness, pain, balance problems, exhaustion, or experiencing multiple falls, talk with your doctor about your mobility plan and whether an aid might help you. From canes to walkers, knee scooters, and wheelchairs, retaining your mobility and independence may be as simple as finding the right tool to support your movements and balance.

With one third of adults over 65 experiencing a fall at some point, fall prevention is directly linked to remaining mobile and independent. Falls can lead to hip fractures, strains, muscle tears, and even hospitalization. ‘Fall proof’ your living environment by:

  • Removing clutter and trip hazards (like cords and curled up rug corners) from walking pathways
  • Getting your vision checked for any impairments that might affect your walking
  • Investing in proper fitting shoes that support and stabilize your movements
  • Installing grab bars, rails and guide lighting around staircases, ramps, and bathrooms
  • Exercising regularly to strengthen bones, muscles, balance, and coordination

Technological Tools

Independence in retirement is taking on new meaning in the digital age. Technological devices, mobile applications, and online services are making living on your own while still staying connected easier than ever.

The rise in use of virtual assistants is a trend making its way into the homes of many Baby Boomers. While Siri on your iPhone can help you look something up on the web or place a call, free standing virtual assistants like Amazon Echo with Alexa or Google Home can go even further. With a simple command, they can update your grocery list, play music on your home sound system, turn on the TV, set alarms, update you on the day’s news, and more.

Online video chat services like Skype and Google Hangout encourage older adults to stay connected to family and friends by live video chatting with them on a computer, even if they live far away. In addition, social platforms like facebook and instagram help you engage with others, check out local events, view photos of family and friends, and more.

Mobile applications you can download and use on your smartphone or tablet, like Instacart or Peapod, let you order groceries online and have them delivered to you door. And apps like TaskRabbit help you find local help to assist with errands, house cleaning, pet sitting, and more household jobs. Looking to add some cash to the old retirement account? Use sites like CraigsList, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace to sell high-valued, gently-used items you no longer want or need.

Everyday Use Tools

In addition to preventing falls and exercising regularly, avoiding annoying health ailments that can affect your ability to complete tasks on your own, like arthritis pain, back inflammation, or muscle strains, can be simplified with even the most basic everyday tools.

Reacher grabber tools are inexpensive, nifty devices that make reaching objects off the ground or up on high shelves easier than ever before. The lightweight design and clever grip handle of a reacher tool helps you extend your reach without exerting too much effort, while rubber and magnetic jaws on the end help you grip and pick up hard to reach items.

Handle grippers make eating, writing, and even brushing your teeth easier, especially if you are one of the 20% of adults in the U.S. with arthritis. Handle grippers slide or wrap around thin instruments or tools to provide a wider, nonslip area with which to grip them securely.

High-powered blenders aren’t just for infomercials anymore. With a strong emphasis on eating a healthy diet infused with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, senior health is showing more and more benefit from whole foods nutrition. And simply put, high-powered blenders can ease the time-consuming process of preparing food, and take the pain out of having to handle multiple pots, pans, lids, and utensils.

Toss an avocado, banana, greek yogurt, fresh spinach, and frozen berries into a high-powered blender for a super food smoothie rich with vitamins, protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Or blend roasted tomatoes and garlic, cream, and basil on a soup setting for a quick, warm meal that might have otherwise taken 20 minutes to make.

When it comes to independent living for older adults, a handful of factors come into play including health, mobility, finances, and living environment. For each and every one, there are tools, both physical and virtual, that can simplify daily living and boost your independence. What’s your go-to independent living tool?