Many of us look forward to the freedoms that come with getting older. No more 9 to 5, fewer expectations and responsibilities. But we may not realize that once the door closes on our work lives, we may struggle to find a new social circle to replace our old friends and co-workers. And relationships factor in to our happiness in retirement. A paper submitted for the 2018 Academic Research Colloquium for Financial Planning & Related Disciplines found that leisure spending, health status, and spousal and friend relationships have the greatest impact on creating satisfaction in retirement.
We’re at risk of more than just being dissatisfied if we become disconnected. Loneliness was linked to an increased likelihood of mortality in research conducted by Brigham Young University. While there are many causes, e.g., lifestyle shifts, loss of friends or loved ones, there’s hope in the form of new technology.
Social media apps, for example, enable you to connect with old friends and make new ones. With Facebook, you can rekindle friendships from your school days. Video chats like FaceTime or Skype help you stay in touch with long-distance relatives. And online forums keep you involved in your community. You can hone your gardening hobby or carry on philosophical discussions in online forums like SENIORSonly Club or finding relevant Facebook Groups. It may help you grow your social circle with those who have similar interests and views.
Connect Offline, Too
While technology can bridge the gap between face-to-face interactions, it shouldn’t be the only way you communicate. Reach out often to set up lunch dates or attend the theater with friends. You may also enjoy volunteering, say at a local hospital or animal shelter. And physical activities like walking in the park, bocce ball, fitness classes, golf or shuffleboard can help you stay active and healthy.
Technology Do’s and Don’ts
- Do consider attending free technology training through organizations like AARP or a local library.
- Do connect with people you know in real life.
- Don’t reveal overly personal or financial information in your profiles. Protect your privacy.
- Don’t believe everything online. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do join online groups to meet others with similar interests.
- Don’t stay home all the time. Walking your neighborhood, visiting local cafes and places of worship might open up your circle.
- Don’t forget to think before you post. You shouldn’t share or say anything you wouldn’t in person.
- Do meet online acquaintances in a public place, like a coffee shop or diner.
Emotional and physical preparedness are just as important as financial preparedness when it comes to retirement. Don’t overlook them.