Living Retired

Once you hit age 50 or thereabouts it’s normal to find yourself thinking of retirement. Hopefully you have been preparing along the way and find yourself financially able to make the move when you are ultimately ready. You don’t want to begin planning to retire in your 50’s – by that time there is not much runway remaining to launch your transition. But assuming along the way you have been diligent, consistent in your savings efforts, realistic about the future and more than a little lucky, when your second act rolls in you should find yourself able to relax and look forward to good times.

You might find living the retired life a bit challenging at first. After decades spent with others telling you what to do – also known as the job – as a retiree you suddenly find you are in control of how you spend your time. You decide what to do and when to do it. The freedom can be intoxicating – what an awesome opportunity to spend your hours in pursuit of what you love! But what if you don’t have any particular passions or have not yet identified any? Suddenly that independence can feel a burden as you try to fill your day with “things” to keep you busy, keep you engaged, and bring meaning to your existence.

And how do you define meaning in your new role as full time retiree? Back in the working world deadlines and goals helped determine success. A completed project provided a clear measure of accomplishment. Perhaps a promotion justified long hours spent proving yourself as it moved you ever higher in the food chain. In the working world things are more quantifiable. In retirement meaning is often a bit fuzzier, more elusive.

Not every moment need be spent in meaningful pursuit of noble causes. As a bone fide retiree you have earned the right to do nothing, to chill, and just relax. I think you better serve your cause by seeking a balance between relaxation and meaningful activities. On a little, off a little.

In retirement you don’t worry about fancy titles. In fact it is often those who held lofty titles in the working world who find it hardest to adjust to a life where fellow retirees are peers instead of subordinates. Power trippers beware – when you retire you leave your fame and glory behind. It is important to be happy with who you are outside of work. The good news is you can now spend time figuring out exactly who that person will be. Just because you are no longer contributing to the bottom line does not mean you cannot contribute to living a fulfilling second act.

Having focused long and hard on building your nest egg as you saved all you possibly could, don’t be surprised if in retirement you find yourself reluctant to part with those hard earned dollars. A reader of LoveBeingRetired explains his dilemma: “Spending money is a huge deal for me. Guided by a certified planner for the past 31+ years, we’ve saved and invested just for this very retirement period I recently started. With saving and living beneath means for so many years, I can’t seem to just flip the switch to start spending. NOTHING seems to be of enough value to me to spend the money. Everything seems SO expensive these days that I persuade myself that I can live without it.”

Who among us is free from the fear of running out of money? With realistic hopes of living 10 or 20 years as retirees an extended future is in store for many.  We all want our finances to last to the end. But it is important to remember what all the years of frugal living was intended for – to subsidize the retirement lifestyle we want. If we refuse to spend anything we risk missing out. A little prioritization of what really matters along with a bit of loosening of the purse strings can be just the ticket. Frugality is essential but so is balancing a heavy wallet with a happy heart.

Responsibility in retirement is different. To this point the focus has been on taking care of others whether a demanding boss or a dependent child. In the retirement world you are elevated to first billing. Your happiness is no longer automatically superseded by those around you. Now is the time to spoil you. The trick is learning to become comfortable with this new state of affairs. It is not always easy to let go or to trust in the abilities of others to get things done. But if you can, if you are able to direct your efforts toward you and your retirement happiness, you will have discovered one of the secrets of what it means to be retired.

When you retire you are afforded a glimpse into a new future, a future that is more in your control than any other time in your life. You obligations are fewer. Experience has taught you how to cope with not-so-easy situations. Your happiness matters. And if you hope to stay on track there is no place for regret. Worrying about the past is a waste. What you might have done differently is irrelevant since you cannot change or fix it. The important thing is what you do from this moment onward.

Retirement is only the beginning of a new chapter. Daily life will be interesting, sometimes exciting, at times challenging. Remember you are at the wheel. You chart your own course. Drive safely and enjoy the journey!

How the Amazon Echo could help you to continue to live independently throughout retirement

Written by Emily Ryan

Until recently, Personal Virtual Assistants (PVAs) were the preserve of those with a high level of disposable income who love to own the latest gadgets and gizmos. What couldn’t have been predicted though, was the positive impact these PVA’s could have on people with mobility or accessibility issues around the home.

One recent development in this line of gadgets has been the Amazon’s own version of the personal assistant, the ‘Echo’ and it’s personable PVA ‘Alexa’. Both affordable, accessible the possibilities are endless when it comes to independent living.

The device has gained support among elderly adults as well as their families and caregivers with more than 30,000 customer reviews on Amazon praising the Alexa for its ability to assist. The reviews discuss how Alexa has given them a sense of independence and freedom that was once thought to be impossible.

We’ve spoken to the independent living experts over at Ability Superstore about just how some of their customers have made use of the Amazon Echo device, and how it has allowed some of their customers to live more independently as a result.

How the Alexa can help combat loneliness

As well as being practical, Alexa can help to alleviate the pain of loneliness in older adults. In the elderly community, loneliness can be the difference between good health and poor health. Alexa attempts to provide as much assistance and companionship as possible through its voice activation controls, as well as being able to connect with other internet users through communication software such as Skype.

The Amazon echo is a fantastic piece of technology that sits neatly on your table without causing too much clutter or without clashing with any decor. One specific feature of the echo is that it can connect to your devices such as your radio and your tv. From here, you can talk to your echo and command it to control these devices. Imagine being able to just ‘call out’ to Alexa to instantly find out information about your local neighbourhood, rather than having to use a fiddly timetable?

The additional features of Alexa

Additional features include being able to gather information, read the news, listen to music, check for sport scores, add an alarm or even check the weather. It’s a fantastic assistant that is available to you whenever you need it. Not only that, but with its voice command, there’s no need for handheld controls. To ‘wake up’ your device, simply call out the name “Alexa”. Once activated, the virtual assistant will ‘wake up’ and listen to your commands.

This is particularly handy for those who have trouble navigating around the house or if you tend to lose remotes fairly often! Your Alexa is in the room with you as far as your voice can travel. Once set up the Alexa couldn’t be easier to use making it ideal for even the biggest technophobes.

Help aids such as Alexa are a brilliant way to ease you into retirement. The possibilities are endless with Alexa – you can with send emails and text messages, update your Facebook and communicate with the grandchildren through Skype – you can even do your weekly shop through its voice activation!

Alexa isn’t just an aid for the disabled or the elderly it’s a tool that many people both old and young can use in their day to day lives. So don’t see it as an object of defeat – see it as an object which can help liberate your life and improve your everyday independence.