Retirement Well-being: For a Happier Retirement

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Retirement is a major life change for many people. Switching from working full time to working part-time or not working at all can be something to get used to. Apart from the loss of a stable income, leaving work can also mean a loss of purpose in life, triggering poor retirement well-being.

Having a happy retirement is more than being financially secure. Maintaining social engagement with friends and family, having a healthy mind and body all contributes to satisfaction in retirement. When talking about retirement well-being or retirement wellness, we refer to these non-financial aspects of retirement. Unfortunately, in Singapore, people are more worried about finances than their health and social life. This may lead to a less than satisfactory retirement in the long run.

So how does retirement actually affect well-being? Many changes happen during retirement, the most apparent being the lack of work. For many people, work is a central role in their life and working gives them purpose. Some might have difficulty adjusting to the lack of work and the associated lack of purpose in life. Without a goal or motivation, people become bored or even on certain occasions, depressed.

For many, work also provides stimulation of the mind or a reason to be physically active. Thus, with the lifestyle change, it can be difficult for retirees to stay alert and active.

Work can also contribute greatly to a person’s social life, especially if they work long hours. Retirement is a change that might cause increased loneliness and reduced interaction for people who do not have a strong social network.

This is not to say that retirement is definitely negative, but having a realistic picture of retirement and its possible risk can help you develop a strategy to prepare for retirement.

The first step is always to have a realistic expectation of what retirement is like for you. For the average Singaporean, you can expect to live up to more than 80 years. This means that this new phase of life will be a significant one, and many will spend more than 20 years in retirement. Knowing this, it is prudent to plan your time and money wisely.

Next, is having a goal in retirement. Whether this is to get active, pick up a new skill you have not been able to, start a second career or volunteer to give back to society. These are all ways that keep you active, socially engaged and fulfilled.

After setting a goal, do a quick check to assess the resources you currently have that will help you achieve your goal. These resources can be physical ones like brochures to a senior job fair, or it can be mental ones like having an idea of how you are going to achieve your goals. If you intend to volunteer, do you have a cause that you are passionate about? Are you able to stay committed to your volunteering role? If these questions are unanswered, it is best to look up resources that can help you. Check out the other articles from the Ready or Not? website for more retirement planning resources.

To have a successful retirement is more than just contributing to your retirement account. Caring about your health and social life is essential. Set yourself up for success by planning for your retirement well-being.

Source: DBS-Manulife Retirement Wellness Study, CASE To Work or Not to Work - Retirement and Health Among Older Singaporeans Study, Singstats

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