RETIREMENT and HEALTH

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August 24, 2018

We chatted last about retiring to ‘Fun in the Sun’. An important element to consider is the issues of Health and how they might impact  your retirement plans 

WHEN, I was growing up, and during business life I probably spent little time thinking about Retirement and Health. Yes, we had health protection ( as a resident of Ontario, private coverage through employers where I shared the costs,. In a couple of executive level positions, the Company insisted, I participate in semi-annual check-ups. When, I ran a public company in the USA, the auditors and the Board insisted, I confirm on a regular basis my aches and pains. Stock holders were always interested. In reality, I wonder whether it is any of their business. However, lawyers like to handle such discussions.

The time after you stop the daily activities of your work is when you have to start thinking about health. It’s really not about your physical aches and pains, the onset of arthritic joints- muscles that tire long before you want them to. It is about your mental outlook. For many, going from being the ‘captain on the bridge’, making the key decisions and having others to take care of many daily activities, such as arranging for events, transportation and so forth – You have to do it all yourself!  Too often, I have observed a key industry titan who has just decided to become an independent advisor after retiring unable to manage the smartphone and seems completely lost. In the initial stage, they call up their colleagues to have lunch, a game of golf; go fishing and have a coffee. Yes, they are in excellent health, but quickly find out that being at home – perhaps living (24 hours a day) for the first time in several years with a spouse who has not seen much of them for 25 years. This is an adjustment for both parties  

Being retired takes effort. No one person will be the same. Each of us have different expectations – wishes and desires to do things during retirement which we never had time to do during our working lives. There is no correct road or sage advice to follow. I will give some ideas and things you might run into.

  • You have been retired for a few months; taking the several cruises and now wants to find a consulting assignment. Do not take too long before you want to do this. The business world changes today at lighting speed.  Your skills and background – even your network value may be lessened. In fact, some of what you thought were your friends may have already moved on 
  • Even though you have the home in the sunny south, perhaps you suffer a minor heart attack. Your insurance plan may not allow you to travel. Or, the potential cost of getting sick cannot be covered any longer 
  • Looking after the extended family – your grandchildren on a regular basis will not be a rewarding past time 
  • Volunteering in the community may put in time, but if you have been a business executive watch out for what they really want to do. The vast majority of these not for profit groups today are looking for ‘fund raisers’.
  • Technology is the future – so it will be important that for the future you stay current as to what is happening. Learn the new functions. 
  • Look after yourself – get sufficient rest and exercise. 
  • Start getting involved with the millennium generation – Truthfully, while you may consider them last and so forth they are the future. As most of you are ‘boomers’, they represent an entirely new generation. Technology adept and eager to succeed. Yes, they will never work for companies that you grew up in – nor will they adopt the values. However, we are now embarking upon a new era of management – business creation and so forth. They are anxious to have your assistance.
  • Not all the solutions in retirement are financial – yes, you will still have to ensure the funds do not run out. Spending, generally grows with inflation in real terms between 65 and 70, then begins to slow down for most of the next 20 years. A recent USA study showed that even individuals with less than US $200,000 in non-housing assets immediately after retirement still had 75 % of their cash assets 18 Years later – which is great news for their heirs. Yes, you will find that you expenditures fall dramatically unless you spend extra time in the casino or decide to acquire a young expensive maiden. You will find that on most occasions when you go shopping, you return without a thing. 

At the very end, people will spend more, in their 90’s if they get that far, because at that point they’ll need care… and it does tend to be very expensive 

  • A word about your health providers might be in order. We all developed relationships with doctors, dentists’, lawyers and accountants, even barbers during our lifetime. They get old also and some morning we find we are lacking being able to have the services of our close friends. These services are changing rapidly – there are shortages of family doctors and others who have trusted in the past. My advice, make changes before their retire. Find a new young friend. A six hour wait in a clinic is not the answer for a sore throat.
  • Finding the right place to live out your retirement years is also an area for consideration. Many retirees have opted to sell the family residence and either move to the country or a high rise to either reduce the expected monthly cost of maintenance / taxes or simply tired of the traffic. Many thought live in a small city would be ideal. While the jury is still out as to results, many issues have begun to surface including:

  • The increase in an older population has put a serious strain on existing medical care and related services Spending time on a gurney in the hallway is not fun at 75 
  • Many of the areas do not have the activities or attractions that are available in larger urban areas 
  • Public transportation in many of these communities is limited – If you do not drive or cannot - after 80 years, you have to take a mandatory driving examination to keep a licence- how are your eyes and ears. We all know about some of our friends who should not be driving today. Retirement location might be a concern in this case.
  • Municipal servicing costs are rising in these areas to accommodate requirements for water and sewers. Low taxes are now a thing of the past 
  • For those moving to condos in major urban areas – maintenance fees are not fixed. Many are finding their luxury condos are Airbnb locations. Living on the 21st floor with no garden was not what they thought retirement life was all about
  • Living at the cottage without cost effective Wi-Fi and access to Netflix is not great on a rainy day 

Lots to think about – It is never too early to start thinking about retirement.  

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