Keeping socially active, enjoying hobbies, meeting up with friends and having a positive outlook on life are key factors in making the most of retirement, studies have found.
A study by Skipton Building Society has found men find retirement to be one of the most fulfilling periods of their lives, taking up new hobbies and interests, and regularly seeing close friends. But women are more likely to worry about financial issues, feel lonely in retirement and miss the social ‘buzz’ of the workplace.
Stacey Stothard, Corporate Communications Manager at Skipton Building Society, which commissioned the study of 678 retirees, said: “It’s quite feasible you could spend a third of your life in retirement, so your post-work years really are what you make of them. After spending between twenty and forty years in employment, it can be a shock to the system to find you have 24 hours a day, seven days a week to yourself.
“What makes one person happy can differ significantly from another. So why not take stock of what really interests and motivates you. For some people it’s having a sense of achievement; for others it’s having a specific project to manage; and some people simply thrive from office camaraderie. There are plenty of similar things to do outside of work that offer the same challenge and enjoyment.”
The study found clear differences in attitudes to retirement between men and women, although the importance of keeping busy was a common factor between the two. For women, a happy retirement relies on a good social life – 56% try to regularly meet up with friends compared to just 33% of men, while 62% of retired women said they missed the banter of the workplace, compared to just 44% of men.
Research by Brunel University London has also found that people who see old age as a time of loneliness or expect to be lonely in old age are much more likely to actually feel alone than those with a more positive outlook.
The study looked at people over the age of 50 who considered themselves to be ‘not lonely’ – a third said they expected to be lonely in retirement, while a quarter said older age was ‘a time of loneliness’ – and followed up on their attitudes eight years later. The researchers found those who expected to be lonely were two to three times more likely to actually feel alone in later life.
Christina Victor, Professor of Gerontology and Public Health at Brunel University London and author of the report, said the link between expected and actual loneliness was “highly significant” and raised the possibility of being able to prevent loneliness in later life and tackle associated quality of life, health and social problems.
“The influence of individuals’ beliefs and expectations on loneliness suggests that mass ‘change’ campaigns may be more effective in combating loneliness than the services currently offered,” Professor Victor said.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.
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