No one likes to talk about mental health.
After all, it’s easy to be scared of a beast we can’t see. However, to overcome these issues the best thing we can do is talk. So, let’s start a dialogue about mental health in retirement.
Older people generally experience fewer mental health complications, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, transitional periods in anyone’s life can be a cause of distress and retirement is no exception to this. While many of us may look at leaving the workforce as an indisputably positive change, any kind of lifestyle shift has the potential to disrupt our lives in a way that is detrimental to our emotional well being.
“A mentally healthy retirement is active, social and most of all, flexible.”
Social isolation refers to an absence of relationships with family and friends on an individual level, as well as with broader society. Without a social network in place, retirees may be isolated, leading to feelings of intense loneliness and depression. Isolation is becoming increasingly common throughout the ageing population, affecting 20 per cent of older Australians, according to Professor Andrew Beer at the University of Adelaide.
Retirees are at particular risk from social isolation, as the effects of ageing and leaving the workforce often conspire to limit one’s social interactions. Decreasing finances, impaired mobility and the death of contemporaries all factor into a shrinking network.
Daily routine and activities give us a sense of purpose that we may take for granted. Without anything to look forward to or any duties to fulfil, there’s a risk that we may feel a lack of purpose or direction in retired life.
Leaving the workforce removes a major institutional routine from our lives. Work has been acknowledged for its role in promoting mental wellness and a sense of identity and purpose, according to the World Health Organisation. For many of us, work is a means to feel as though we are contributing to a community or economy and serve a greater purpose. When this structure in our lives is removed, listlessness and mental illness can develop.
Picture your retirement – will you be travelling the world and ticking everything off your bucket list? Living the way we want to in retirement can be difficult without a comprehensive retirement plan in place. As we let go of our salaries, we need a financial pool to support our way of life – such as super or other investment income. Without this, we may find retirement to be less glamorous and more stressful than we always imagined.
Furthermore, if your partner has dreams of a countryside retirement while you want to remain close to major centres, these conflicting expectations can exacerbate stress or social isolation.
What sort of retirement lifestyle are you dreaming of?
There’s a wide range of risks to our mental health in retirement. It can seem scary, but all it takes to manage these is a comprehensive retirement plan.
Most people understand the importance of financial planning for retirement, however, money is only one part of your retirement plan. The key to a mentally healthy retirement is feeling like you are in control of the outcomes every step of the way. This means engaging in pre and post-retirement planning, accounting for lifestyle expectations, relationships and work.
What you need to know
This information is provided by Invest Blue Limited (ABN 91 100 874 744). The information contained in this article is of general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regards to those matters and seek personal financial, tax and/or legal advice prior to acting on this information. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relations to products and services provided to you.
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