However old or young we are, we all have concerns about what the future holds. As we progress through our twenties, it’s something that you have a cursory thought towards, but when you steadily advance through your 30s, and have families and life commitments, before you know it, you are over the age of 40, and you need to put solid life plans in place, not just for yourself, but for the ones you love. At this point, preparing for retirement is something you can do with some excitement, but also trepidation. When we are slowly getting towards retirement age, it’s not just the day to day life problems we encounter, but issues far greater. What are these, and how can you best prepare yourself?
The very real cloud hanging over our heads in our lives is the financial burden we place upon ourselves. Common financial problems 20 years ago included mortgages, now, the millennial generation aren’t able to afford housing. If this is you, and you are hurtling towards 40, now is the time to start thinking about your assets. Do you have dependents? Or do you have outstanding debt that doesn’t look like it will be paid off anytime soon? The ideal goal would be to pay off all your debts by the time you hit retirement, and so, it’s essential that you undertake a drastic overhaul of your finances if you find yourself in a constant spiral of debt. For instance, are you being smart with your money? If not, do you need extra help to manage the finances? Or is it a case of you not earning enough money in your job? Because the overriding goal is to be debt free and financially secure by the time you hit retirement, you need to think about what you really want out of your retirement years. This is the only true way for you to get a bearing on your situation, and whether you need a mortgage, so you have a foot on the property ladder. But now, the other issue to consider, in a societal sense, is that we are, collectively, retiring at an older age. And while there are supposed health benefits of retiring later, do you want to be working your fingers to the bone until old age?
The Onset Of Illness
As a caveat to the previous point, if you are working your fingers to the bone, are you going to make yourself stressed, and as a result, and well? A lot of people have to retire early because of illness, specifically age-related illness. Physical concerns are commonplace as you get older, but you also need to think about the unthinkable. An illness like cancer is something that affects the vast majority of us in our life. And being prepared emotionally for this can help you cope, especially if a loved one is going through it, or you end up going through it yourself. Because we all have a, very understandable, fear of cancer, we can get depressed or panic about getting it. And while science is progressing at such a rate, with studies being implemented that are fighting specific cancers every day, and there have been efficacy studies that show how much cancer is being eradicated, it’s not healthy to think that all cancer will be eradicated in our lifetime. Of course, an irrational fear of illness is a psychological problem. And while this may be jumping the gun somewhat, if you do have worries about certain diseases, or if there are problems that run in the family, such as diabetes, it’s your prerogative to do what you can to prevent these problems. Granted, having an unhealthy obsession with health doesn’t help, but while there are stories in the news every day that advises you on how best to look after yourself, you need to listen to your body, but also, as you get older, ensure you have regular contact with your doctor. A lot of people ignore going to the doctor, and brag about the fact that they haven’t gone in years. But it’s these people that have instant regrets as soon as they are diagnosed with an illness late in the game. Don’t be a hero in this respect.
Amazingly, this isn’t discussed as much as illness and financial problems. In old age, depression, anxiety, and loneliness are commonplace. Emotional issues like these go hand-in-hand with a feeling of helplessness, especially when you are unable to get around yourself, and rely on others to help you. In addition to this, the very real feeling of fallibility crops up. As you get older- even as early as your twenties- you might see friends and contemporaries, not to mention grandparents, pass away. The grieving process is something that is individual to each person, and it can last as long as necessary, but when you are old enough, that you are going to funerals on a regular basis, the concerns about your own mortality will loom large in your mind. And while it’s a cliché to say that death is a “part of life”, we’ve all got our own anxieties about it. The real way to combat this is to talk. Older generations, such as the baby boomers, don’t discuss issues that much. And while this is a crass generalization, it’s important to know that socializing, and sharing, are two things that will help you in the long run. Being housebound is incredibly demoralizing, not to mention debilitating. When you were younger, you took your physicality and quick thinking for granted. As we get older, our bodies and minds begin a steady decline. And although we function throughout our lives, it’s only when we begin to lose control over our bodies, that we realize how much control we had. From the perspective of someone who is far away from retirement, you can do something about it. You see older people, grandparents maybe, struggling to get around, so let this be a lesson in what will happen when you get older. We see people fighting the clichés of old age, by going to the gym in their 70s and this goes to show that, from a biomechanical point of view, we can do something about it. So don’t take your body for granted, likewise, don’t take your mind for granted. If you ever have emotional problems, always find someone to talk to. Being social is one of the solutions many professionals talk about when minimizing anxiety and loneliness in old age and it’s not just beneficial when we’re old. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Maintaining healthy relationships is the key to a rich and happy life. Every time you see a story on the news about a couple that has been married for 70-odd years, they are always asked the secret to their happy marriage, and it’s not always compatibility that’s the answer, but rather the fact that they can be open with one another. Relationships, whether it’s marriage or friendships, can suffer due to a lack of communication. And as we get older, we begin to gradually pare down our relationships to the very essential ones. Family becomes more important, and the well-worn cliché of being able to count your true friends on one hand is very understandable now. Nowadays, social media highlights the fact that we have more fair-weather friends than ever before. As you get older, and you begin to realize what’s important in life, and it always comes back to the people you love. Maintaining these relationships is, arguably, a lot harder now. Social media provides a very big distraction in our lives, and when we look back on our existence, will we wish we updated our social media more, or less? Luckily, there are numerous stories coming out of the woodwork where young children are undergoing a social media detox, and we can all learn from these children because they are experiencing the most negative effects of social media. If you grew up in a time when cyberbullying wasn’t a thing, consider yourself lucky. With the amount of anxiety children have just by social media, and the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), it’s hardly a surprise that children are choosing to eschew social media. The same applies to your work. We all have to work more nowadays, but will we regret the amount of work we did? Of course, we will.
Getting older and heading into our retirement years doesn’t have to be a mishmash of anxiety and stress, but if you know this now, while you can do something about it, it will help you no end. These are common problems people are facing in retirement or old age, and it’s important that each and every one of us knows these issues and what we can do about them. Old age should be a healthy and happy time, and so, when you look back on your life, you want it to be full of happy memories and loving thoughts. And as well-worn as this cliché is, the modern climate makes it very difficult to do so.