OPINION: Retiring? Then what?
By Deb Taylor | The AfricaPaper
Looking forward to retirement? Are you daydreaming about saying sayanara to the daily grind, the chaotic commutes?
Most of us spend 40 years in the workplace developing skills, supporting our families, and helping others. And then, it ends. Freedom – but a scary freedom. Often, much of our identity is tied up in what we did during our career. Once that ends, what do we have? Some feeling of loss is natural, but opportunity is the operative word.
Retirees benefit from the luxury of leisure time, complemented by a diverse set of skills learned and honed over decades of dedicated application in a variety of settings. You can repurpose this work life in a new way.
Rather than retiring, think of it as refiring – getting excited and passionate again in new ways.
Let’s face it. How much time will you really spend sleeping in, golfing or pursuing another hobby? Today’s retirees can expect to live another 20 years or longer, so we want to maintain a good balance of activities for a productive and positive lifestyle.
In my work with seniors, I’ve unfortunately seen too many older adults whose primary avocation is watching television six or eight hours a day. The TV is often always on. This kind of idleness is corrosive to the mind, body and soul. A study conducted by a California State University psychologist discovered that people who continue working or maintain involvement in volunteering, for example, were less prone to health problems and enjoyed better mental health.
So consider volunteerism as a great way to refire and repurpose your talents to help others. At my nonprofit organization, Senior Community Services, volunteers are key participants in several programs and they love it. They’re using their skills and loving the experience knowing they’re making a difference in many lives.
Friendly Advice About Medicare
Several months before you retire, be sure to do your homework on Medicare. We recommend the acclaimed Medicare Counseling program (1-888-541-5488) which routinely helps Minnesota clients save amounts ranging from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars annually on health insurance costs. I remember one woman who brought to our offices several boxes of health information she’d received from insurance carriers. She was exasperated, “I’m overwhelmed, lighten my burden.” We were able to really help her.
There are so many health insurance options facing retirees, the consumer can be left confused and bewildered by the many available choices. Medicare counseling enables you to quickly cut through the marketing materials and sales pitches to select a plan that’s right for you.
Counselors help seniors weigh costs and identify the very best Medicare plan and Part D drug plan for you. We also have staff that can help resolve outstanding health insurance claims that pose a financial burden for many seniors.
Medicare counseling is available by phone for any Minnesota resident, and at 20 sites in Hennepin and Wright counties. Navigating Medicare community education classes also are held at public and corporate venues. Private counseling sessions can be arranged by scheduling.
With a little thoughtful planning, retirement can be the gateway to an amazing period of your life. With the luxury of time, and a lifetime of accumulated talents, you can be helpful and productive in a myriad of meaningful ways.
What a wonderful, satisfying way to help Reimagine Aging, as Minnesota increasingly become a graying culture.
The AfricaPaper – Deb Taylor is CEO of Senior Community Services (www.seniorcommunity.org) and its Reimagine Aging Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for older adults and helps seniors and caregivers maintain their independence through free or low-cost services.