Below are some key areas* that can influence your retirement well-being.
This information is based on evidence-based research involving National Seniors Australia and Associate Professor Joanne Earl of Macquarie University. It is designed to help you address the key areas identified in the Retirement quiz.
Combined with the Retirement quiz, the resources below can help you work towards a fulfilling retirement.
Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to the heading to open each section.
Having money in the bank is one thing, but as the saying going, ‘Your health is everything.’
Energy levels, mobility and general health concerns need to be monitored closely. While some illnesses are a result of bad luck or hereditary issues, there’s plenty you can do to improve your eating and lifestyle habits.
Try to do something active each day – and avoid sitting down for too long. Visit the Healthy Lifestyle page on our website to learn more.
“How much do I need to retire?”
It’s a question we are all forced to ask, but the answer isn’t always clear-cut. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) provides an indication of how much you will need to fund either a comfortable or modest standard of living in retirement.
But there are a number of factors that can impact our pathway to the ‘ideal retirement.’
- changes to superannuation laws
- changes to the Age Pension
- changes to personal circumstances and goals
- health, travel and home maintenance costs
- share market volatility
- longer life expectancy (we don’t always budget for longevity)
- unplanned expenses.
Your situation can change quickly. Even if you are on track for, or are enjoying a ‘comfortable’ retirement, you might find that your money isn’t stretching as far as you thought it would.
Take Martha, for instance.
Martha is 67 and until recently, had never worried about budgeting. But with unexpected health problems and house maintenance costs, Martha found her nest egg disappearing quickly. It was time for action.
She had made regular contributions except when she took off time work to raise her three children and according to her own research online, thought she would have enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle.
Martha did for the first five years of retirement when it seemed like such a large sum, but she has now discovered that the money isn't stretching as far as she expected.
What factors do you think might have changed in Martha's life to account for her budget deficit?
Some unexpected health problems and maintenance issues on her house had resulted in most of Martha's nest egg disappearing. It was time for action. There are several things that Martha did in this situation.
She started by getting on top of her spending using the Moneysmart tools here.
And also understanding how to manage her debts. Learn more here.
Martha had invested her superannuation lump sum in a bank annuity, so it was time to revisit her investments and better understand what benefits she was entitled to.
In preparation, she decided to discuss her situation with a financial counsellor so that she knew what questions to ask when she met with her bank. Learn more here.
For many of us, work is an important source of social interaction. So, it's not uncommon to feel a bit lonely after retiring from work.
Whether you like to be part of big groups or prefer quieter conversations, social activities are an important way of remaining connected with others. This can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It doesn’t matter what the social activity is, as long as you enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to get out there and give it a go. You may even like to learn a new skill or hobby.
Here are some other options you might like to consider:
- part-time work
- complete a short course (the University of the Third Age provides several options)
- group fitness classes or walking groups
- art classes or other creative pursuits
- book clubs (join one or start your own)
- a pen pal program like The Letterbox Project.
You may also like to join your nearest National Seniors branch.
Our branches are a great place for older Australians to get involved in discussing community issues, participate in social events, hear informative guest speakers and meet like-minded members.
Have you thought about what will happen when you stop working? With so much time spent in the workforce, it’s no surprise that many people struggle emotionally with the shift to retirement or reduced hours of work.
Some even choose to re-enter the workforce. Everyone is different. That’s why planning ahead can help. You can find a career adviser at the Career Development Association of Australia.
A qualified financial advisor may also be able to help you with your transition to retirement plan.
For those struggling to cope with the transition to retirement (or other life events), you are certainly not alone. Professional help is available.
Contact Beyond Blue for information about anxiety and depression, and the support available to help you on your journey.
Staying cognitively active is critical in delaying the onset of dementia.
Here are some activities that can help you keep cognitively well:
- read books and newspapers
- learn something new
- listen to music
- play cards, chess, board games etc.
- do crosswords or puzzles
- participate in regular leisure activities
- exercise and maintain a healthy diet (drink plenty of water, increase Omega 3 fats, consume fruits and vegetables).
And remember: it’s easier to maintain positive habits if you stick with activities that you enjoy!
John is your client and you have worked with him over the past 15 years, including 3 years prior to his retirement. He has recently and uncharacteristically missed appointments and experienced difficulty "laying his hands on the right documents".
What do you say to John?
It's best not to jump to conclusions in this situation. There could be plenty of reasons why John's not at the top of his game right now. Maybe he has been busy with renovations, or travel plans, or a new girlfriend!
You would need to ask a lot more questions before you decide whether John is at risk of experiencing dementia.
For your friends, loved ones and yourself, it's important that you keep informed.
Read the facts sheets available on the Fight Dementia website.
Keep cognitively well through U3A courses, available online.
Some other things to consider
Assess - don't second guess.
Research shows that when people think they have dementia (and really don't) this can influence their withdrawal from activities that otherwise keep them cognitively well.
See your GP first for preliminary testing. Your GP may refer you for further testing.
You can also get assessed by a neuropsychologist. You can find one here.
Setting the right goals keeps us motivated and on target to achieve what we want in retirement.
Goals should be SMART:
- Time-bound (every goal needs an end-point).
Short-term goals should be consistent with your long-term goals, and you should rely on professional advice where necessary.*
*The information contained on this page is not intended as a substitute for financial advice and should not be relied on to manage your investments, superannuation, pension or any other financial product. For personal advice, consult a qualified financial advisor. National Seniors Australia and Macquarie University disclaim all liability (including for negligence) for any loss, damage or injury resulting from reliance on or use of this information. Many of the research findings and information contained within this page have been provided by Associate Professor Joanne Earl of Macquarie University. Please note: for personal medical, financial and emotional advice and support, please consult with a professional.