Retirement is about your quality of life

“There has to be something other than keeping busy that gives human life value because our society so often functions as if ‘productivity’ and/or ‘usefulness’ are the measures of human value—” – Tasha Gordon

The Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) ranks countries on quality of life and Canada does very well in most categories.  What constitutes that desired quality of life in retirement?

According to Dan Kadlec and Ken Dychwald’s book,  A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement, and Success, some of the basics contributors to a good quality of life include:

  • financial freedom as money is not the meaning of life but it does settle the nerves
  • A sense of purpose is also key.  Reinventing your life can be both thrilling and scary but decide what you want and go for it.
  • Preparing for the journey and then going with the flow.

Here are some of the other best case tenets.

GOOD HEALTH

Many of us take good health for granted until a health crisis confronts those assumptions.  That is why gyms, tracks, trails, and indoor mall walks are full of Boomers doing what it takes to stay active and fit.   I read in Lyndsay Green’s book, You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready?, that smokers are 70% more likely to suffer dementia, 60% more likely to have hypertension, and 50% more likely to have diabetes than non-smokers. That is a stunning argument to quit!

The OECD shows that we have good quality water, air, and access to good food and, comparatively speaking, good housing.  With that, we have a good foundation to build on. So if we get moving, particularly in nature, and make positive lifestyle choices, we can keep that quality of life high.  An improved  level of fitness brings better balance, strength, energy, and quality of sleep.  Exercise is the best way to improve and maintain our quality of life in terms of health.

Related article:  Health and wellness are important in retirement

The other aspect is good mental health and positive outlook.  Exercise also improves attitude, self-image, and good mental health.  Engagement, positive social  connections and networks, and meaningful activity do so as well.  Pick those 5 key positive people in your life and be there for them too.  Review your reasons for gratitude regularly and keep your sense of humour.

Related article: Improve your mental health in retirement

Peace of mind can also come from covering risk with proper insurance.  Health, dental, disability, travel medical, critical illness or long term care are types of insurance to consider.  Most folks do not think about coverage if travelling in Canada but health is  a provincial matter and so take a look at your coverage. It may protect both your assets and peace of mind.

CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS

We are social animals. Partners, friends, neighbours, buddies, and our various communities all contribute to  quality of life.  The recent ZOOMER magazine had this from Statistics Canada, “…12 per cent of couples 65-plus split up, compared to four per cent 30 years ago.”  This may account for Marion Korn and Eva Sachs’ new book called, When Harry Left Sally.  It turns out that a happy marriage can improve the quality of your life but a bad one can make you sick, especially if you are female.

Around retirement, it is also a good idea to have a ‘transition team’ that can provide the support, mentorship and comradeship to help make the switch easily.   Retirement is better…with a little help from friends and family.

LEAVING A LEGACY

Think about what is going to give those intrinsic rewards, personal satisfaction or sense of meaning.  It could be volunteering or charitable giving to causes or groups that need support.  It could be political or community activism, a worthwhile project, or your own way of leaving a better world, country, community or family.  This could tie in with that sense of purpose that is so important to quality of life.

Related article:  Everyone has a legacy to share

My son once asked when he was younger, “What are we doing for good?  What are we doing to beat the bad guys?”  Good questions that I return to pondering.  You may want to ponder that too.

You may want to do a quality of life review in your own life.  Any tips?

Written by Donna McCaw

Donna McCaw is the author of It’s Your Time about the choices and decisions in preparing for retirement, a storyteller and speaker who helps people make informed and positive transitions to retirement. She does courses and presentations on Retirement Readiness and Women and Retirement.

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