The 4 Friends Everyone Needs For A Happy Retirement 

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!

Make Your Retirement a Healthy One

Guest Post by Joseph Byrne, Founder and CEO of, a service that connects highly-skilled retirees to part-time or short-term consulting projects in various industries. Below, Mr. Byrne offers his insight into working after retirement and the gap he aims to fill.

Our idea of retirement has changed with each passing generation. Many people count down the days until they can relax with no time-constraints, play golf, visit family and friends, and take the trip they have put off for years. Others find their true passion in their work, committed to continue working as long as their health allows. Still others look forward to volunteering, taking on a second-career, or pursuing a passion project that has eluded them. Often, these visions change during our retirement years after finishing the initial “retirement honeymoon” phase. Retirement can have many different visions to different people; but it does not have to have just one.

As the baby boomer generation is retiring in record numbers (some 10,000 per day), there are millions who are contemplating their next move. Financially, many retirees are not prepared to completely discontinue a regular income, but do not need their full annual salary to feel comfortable. For many, working in retirement is not a burden that interferes with more desirable activities. On the contrary, working in a capacity that allows retirees flexibility, the chance to keep their skills sharp, an opportunity to maintain continued connection with colleagues, all while earning additional retirement income, is a highly fulfilling and prosperous endeavor.

According to research by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 47% of retirees say they are either working or plan to work in retirement. This figure increases with people who are actually still working full-time: 72% say they plan to work in some fashion in retirement. Millions of retirees with years of experience, contacts, and expertise are underutilized; their knowledge simply sits on the sidelines. Part-time, value-added work opportunities seem to only exist for the select few via personal networks.

As I spoke with many highly-educated and highly-trained retirees, this stalemate seemed to be a common thread. There was certainly no shortage of useful experience, and furthermore, after a number of conversations with Human Resources representatives, many firms actually sought out this arrangement to help complete short-term and/or particularly challenging projects. It was after a number of these interactions that my team and I decided to create Empowered Age. We formed our hypothesis around this inefficiency and our directive was simple: bridge the gap between retirees and firms who desire to tap into their wealth of experience. After some market research and testing, was born.

There are a number of websites that cater to retirees looking to work after their “formal” retirement. Many of these services, however, list mostly hourly or manual labor openings. Empowered Age aims to take this a step further, targeting retirees with years of highly skilled experience that can provide exceptional value to a growing firm. Many of these arrangements are projects to help launch a new product, oversee a new office opening, or advise on a new sales strategy.

In our experience, the feedback we have collected has overwhelmingly confirmed our suspicions. First, that there are a significant number of firms looking to engage in this sort of employment arrangement. But more importantly, the retirees or semi-retirees who are eager to fill these roles report a deep renewal of value, continued social status that was familiar during their full-time working years, and a satisfaction in using their knowledge to help drive growth in their organization. In addition, although we did not initially anticipate, firms have been eager to support initiatives that drive inclusion and diversity as it relates to age. This has been an unexpected by-product that we proudly boast.

Moreover, there are encouraging studies that suggest working later in life – and past the “typical” retirement age – can actually be a significant health benefit. This New York Times Article quotes Columbia and Harvard University Professors regarding the mental and physical health benefits of working in retirement as well as the delay of negative retirement consequences such as fatigue and loss of concentration. In fact, researchers from Cornell and Syracuse Universities found that people who continued to work after formal retirement grew their network of family and friends by 25 percent! On the other hand, social networks of retired non-working people actually shrank during the 5-year study period. The study continues, “Work offers a routine and purpose, a reason for getting up in the morning. The workplace is a social environment, a community.”

In this article for The Today Show, author Jean Chatzky writes that researchers from Oregon State University studied a large group of individuals age 50 and over. The researchers found that people who worked past the age of 65 had an 11% lower chance of death from all causes. Ms. Chatzky continues to quote a survey of 80,000 participants from the National Health Interview all over the age of 65: “People in the workforce (particularly those with white-collar jobs) were significantly more likely to report their health was good, very good or excellent than those who were unemployed or retired.” In the countless hours of research we have conducted as noted above, this completely matches what we have found.

Whatever your idea of retirement may be, planning will be an important part. Whether that be financially, geographically, professionally, or socially, be aware to engage in activities that provide value to you. Look for opportunities that benefit your intellectual as well as your physical health. Wherever your journey takes you, we wish you health and success. If part-time consulting work is in that journey, Empowered Age will help you along the way. Visit us at Empowered Age for more information.

Joseph can be reached at Please follow on twitter @EmpoweredAge.

Dealing With the Unexpected in Retirement

Life is full of surprises – some good and others not so. Whatever fate has in store each of us must find a way to deal with what comes our way. We play the cards we are dealt, learning as we go, hopefully not too often repeating the same mistakes. Our education might be straight forward seasoned with a healthy dose of common sense. Or we might need to call upon a certain inner strength to guide us safely through troubled waters.

Some surprises are less-than earth shattering in significance. They present themselves as mere pains in the butt, distractions along an otherwise pretty smooth road. We expect to have to deal with many situations in life. But what about those unexpected out-of-the-blue experiences we don’t see coming?

Did you know that your passport expiration date must be at least 90 days beyond the date of your scheduled return from a trip? I learned this recently while in line at San Francisco International airport. With luggage in tow my wife and I were blissfully expecting to depart a few hours hence on a month long escape to Switzerland. It was not to be. “You can’t travel on this passport.” I was informed I had no alternative but to go to the local federal passport building to apply for a same day passport. As luck had it the next day was Labor Day a wonderful holiday that happens to shut down all government agencies. Another day lost.

We could have bemoaned our situation but instead made the best of the cards we had been dealt. We were in San Francisco, a spot travelers from around the world hungrily journey to. So we found a last minute deal online and booked a hotel for two nights. We then proceeded to walk the town journeying to beautiful Noe Valley, touring ostentatious and glitzy Nob Hill, exploring the latest pizza hot spot in SOMA, and just kicking it in The City. Our experience at the federal building went unexpectedly smoothly and we were soon on our way arriving in Zurich a few days late but safely and with my brand new 10-year passport in hand.

No matter what age navigating the unexpected can be challenging. And nothing gets easier as you get older.

What would you do if in your early fifties you suddenly found yourself out of a job – right sized out or phased out or just plain laid off? It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact a lifetime spent building and honing your skills is suddenly deemed worthless. With companies laser focused on cutting costs regardless of the impact on lives this undesirable situation is a stark reality for many. And your options are not always many. Some are forced to move into a lower status (and paying) role to make ends meet. Others find themselves pushed into some kind of early retirement, underfunded and unexpected with an uncertain future.

Recent weather extremes have rattled many a cage. From the epic flooding in Texas to the path of destruction left by hurricane Irma to fires that rage once again across California, many are learning to expect the unexpected from Mother Nature. How do you cope with the total destruction of your home? What words of consolation are there for the frustration felt having to recover from the ravages of forces beyond your control?

How we deal with unexpected events can pave the road to our future happiness or lack thereof. No one can wave a magic wand and make everything better. But we can try to make the best of a bad situation. Life events can feel overwhelming but maybe less so if we try to actively do something about it. And nowhere is it more important to take an active role than in the case of planning for retirement.

How can we make our individual challenge less so? What is within our individual power to impact our situation? We don’t have to do it all on our own. Family and friends are there to lean on and provide support. Getting through unexpected times calls for us to utilize all of our tools, our contacts, our networks and whatever else might help.

Not all unexpected events are negative. More easily dealt with are joyous announcements of pending weddings or births. Far less intimidating are ecstatic calls received when kids describing the new “perfect job” they just landed. Uplifting are those times when your tomato crop exceeds your wildest expectations. There are plenty of good unexpected surprises in life.

We can expect the unexpected to be a mix of positive moments as well as challenges. Hopefully the scale tips in our favor. How we handle these ups and downs will define the person we are and the quality of the retired life we live. Good luck to us all. And while you have a moment why not double check the expiration of that passport of yours. No need to unnecessarily add stress to your next airport encounter.