According to Pew Research Center, half of US adults aged 55 and older are retired.
If your parents fall under that category, you’re probably wondering what this means for you. Retirement marks an entirely different period in your loved one’s life, and your parents may need your help to navigate this new season.
How can you help your parents through retirement? We’ve outlined four ways below:
Prioritize Structure and Socialization
Without the routine of going to work and coming home every day, your parents might be feeling bored. Prioritizing structure and socialization are instrumental to helping your parents navigate retirement – especially at the beginning.
Why structure and socialization specifically? Recent research reported by CNBC found that seniors are happier when they spend their time and money socializing with others. Even more compelling, Medical News Today found that close friendships can prevent mental decline in seniors. Consider scheduling activities that prioritize time out of the house and socializing, such as:
- A daily morning exercise class
- A coffee morning with other seniors
- A book club that meets regularly
- Regular volunteering at a community charity
These activities are great ways for your parent to simulate their previous life structure – essential for easing into retirement.
Explore a Hobby
Many seniors are happy to enter retirement because it gives them more time to explore their hobbies. Hobbies are great for your parents’ health – according to research from Develop Good Habits, hobbies have the following benefits:
- Reduced risk of dementia
- A longer lifespan
- Increased resilience in the face of stress and adversity
- Improved memory and comprehension
But what should you do if your senior isn’t sure what the next steps are to explore an interest or doesn’t have a recognizable hobby at all?
- Explore a club: just as we discussed in the previous section, socialization is critical. If you can find a club of like-minded people for your parent to engage with, you’ve already won the battle. Look for a local club that meets regularly (every week or two is ideal).
- Explore a new hobby: the most significant part of retirement is time. There are plenty of low-cost, senior-friendly hobbies that your parent could enjoy, such as reading, gardening or even taking art classes. Suggest one of these hobbies if your senior is struggling.
While your senior is adjusting to their new way of life, they may require more of your time or want to engage with you more as they find their feet. Time can be hard to give, but it’s one of the most valuable ways you can help your parent transition to retirement. So, give your parent a call or arrange to come to see them for an afternoon. It’s the little things that add up and make a difference.
Research the Next Steps
Your loved one is newly retiring, but it’s never too early to start planning for future stages. Most experts encourage seniors to begin thinking of future living options early in retirement so they make thoughtful, intentional plans. Experts at Vineyard Senior Living offer the following tips for family members researching these next steps:
- Research options: there are many senior living options, from independent and assisted living to memory care. Research what’s available in your area and speak to your loved ones about their options.
- Determine your loved one’s preferences: now is a great time to have a conversation with your parent about their preferences. Speak to them about how they feel about moving out of their home. It’s important to look at their lives holistically – what could be improved? What do they really want out of the next stage of life? These conversations work twofold – they ensure that your parents’ needs are respected, and also help you make the right decisions about future living arrangements. For example, a loved one who desires a real sense of community may consider independent living before others. These conversations will give everyone time to think about the future before the conversations become urgent.
- Outline your finances: finances are one of the most significant stressors for seniors and their loved ones. Speak to your parent early about their finances to best ascertain options.
Moving your parent through a transition period can be challenging, but there are plenty of beautiful things about this period of retirement. Our best tip? Remember to enjoy this time with your parents as you move through it with them.