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RETIREMENT: LIFE BEGINS AT 60


Business Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 5/2019 vom 26.06.2019

Mit steigender Lebenserwartung gibt es nicht nur mehr Rentner und Rentnerinnen, es erhöht sich auch die Dauer des Ruhestands. Umso wichtiger ist es, rechtzeitig darüber nachzudenken, wie man diesen Lebensabschnitt gestalten möchte. LOIS HOYAL informiert.


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Goodbye to the job: but are you ready to face the future?


Illustration: sorbetto/iStock.com

ADVANCED

Armed with medical advances and a healthy lifestyle, we’re living longer than ever before: global life expectancy at birth was 72 years in 2016, according to the World Health Organization. Indeed, human life expectancy in developed countries is increasing by ...

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... some two years per decade.

So just how long could the average person live in future? Rudi Westendorp is a professor of medicine of old age at the Health and Medical Sciences Faculty of the University of Copenhagen and coauthor ofA Guide to Growing Older . Westendorp expects millennials in rich nations to be the first generation to become centenarians as the norm. In fact, in his opinion, the first person to live to the age of 135 is probably being born about now.

Increasing longevity is changing the face of retirement. In the past, retirement didn’t exist because people died before they had the chance to give up work. In today’s Western world, we enjoy the luxury of better health, and can retire at an age that allows us to enjoy many post-retirement years.

This means that we need to start approaching retirement differently. Retirement shouldn’t mark the beginning of the end, but rather the start of a new era, and possibly even the best years of your life. After all, retirees’ residual lifespan will average another two decades.


Retirement is not the beginning of the end, but the start of a new era


Retirement planning tips from retirees


•Monitor your investments before you retire
•Talk with your spouse or partner about retirement spending
•Focus on physical health
•Create a budget and follow it
•Hire an investment expert
•Control travel expenses in retirement
•Pay off your mortgage
•Work additional years to cushion your nest egg

Source: Nationwide Building Society (www.nationwide.co.uk )

The joy of work

Not everyone likes the idea of putting their feet up when they reach retirement age. Since compulsory retirement was abolished in the UK in 2011, almost 300,000 more people over the age of 65 have been in employment, according to labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS expects an additional 4.5 million people over 50 to work over the next decade.

Many continue to work for either financial or emotional reward. After all, continuing to use your grey matter can conquer loneliness, social isolation, poverty and dementia. Few people benefit from going cold turkey and making the transition from working five days a week to suddenly not working at all, says Stuart Lewis, founder and chief executive at Rest Less, a digital community that helps those in their 50s and beyond find career and volunteering opportunities.

Maura Ward is one of them, choosing not to fully retire from her job as an educational welfare officer in Northern Ireland until she was 69. “There was no way I could have afforded to retire on my state pension and maintain the lifestyle that I wanted to lead, travelling the world and regularly visiting my children and grandchildren who live in Bangkok and London,” she told Rest Less. “I consider myself 60 years young — I didn’t need to give up work for health reasons, so after I passed my state pension age, I continued to top up my retirement pot by moving to part-time work in exactly the same role.”


Prepare yourself financially and emotionally for the worstcase scenario


Don’t be ageist

Society in general needs to realize the potential of older people and start investing in them. The German car industry has already understood this, says gerontologist Westendorp. Panicking because of a shortage in the labour force, the automotive industry has invested in plants specifically designed for older workers.

So, how should you best prepare for retirement? First, you need to organize your social life, particularly if you don’t have close family or childcare responsibilities as a grandparent. But re-establishing a social network once you’re out of the workplace can be exhausting, which is why building up a strong social life and hobbies before you retire is a good idea.

Codes and rails

ForDr Peter Jarvis , 86, retirement has been a very rewarding time, which has allowed him to renovate both the wartime home of the British codebreakers and a railway.

Jarvis retired “for the first time” from his role as a general practitioner in 1992. Born in Wales, he was a member of the Welsh national archaeological society and was told by the society’s general secretary to “keep your eyes and ears open” about something unusual near his former workplace of Milton Keynes. Eventually, it became public that Bletchley Park, a nearby 19th-century mansion and estate, was once the top-secret central site of British and Allied codebreakers during the Second World War.

Jarvis became a founder trustee of Bletchley Park’s independent charity and was instrumental in its initial restoration. “My wife, Sue, and a friend manned the office and, with another friend, I took people on tours of the place. It became very popular. Now it’s getting a quarter of a million visitors every year!”

Not stopping at that, Jarvis also renovated Ffestiniog Railway, a narrow-gauge railway and tourist attraction in Snowdonia, North Wales. Ffestiniog, the oldest railway company in the world, had always held a fascination for Jarvis. “I have been interested in Ffestiniog Railway since I was seven. We were evacuated to North Wales from Liverpool during the war and when I arrived by train there were notices about a ‘toy’ railway. I knew it must be special.”

The railway closed in 1946 and lay derelict until 1954. In 1958, Jarvis started working on it at weekends. When he retired at the age of 60, he raised funds and helped manage the railway’s renovation. He even helped build a section. “We set about building a 25-mile (40-kilometre) branch line from Caernarfon over the mountains to Porthmadog. We got in civil engineering contractors to build the bridges and earthwork but reserved for ourselves the pleasure of laying the track. I became a competent plate layer. By the time I was 75, I was a lot fitter than when I was 60!”

Decision: retire now or earn more by working longer?


Time to develop a new career? Be sure you have the funds


For those who are married, it can be a case of too much of a good thing: it can become claustrophobic if both of you are suddenly at home. Having separate hobbies and your own friendships can help prevent you from getting under each other’s feet.

It’s equally important to prepare yourself both financially and emotionally for the worst-case scenario: what is going to happen when you’re no longer able to live by yourself or look after yourself on a daily basis? Will you have to go into a care home? How will you organize care at home otherwise? Will your family help out? Be realistic: you never know when this might happen.

During her 40-year career, former international pensions expert Maureen Lorié, 66, had always been prudent about how she spent her money. “I have always tried never to spend more than I earned and also put some money aside for later on,” Lorié says.

She also realized the importance of good health. “Don’t spend your earlier years just working, but invest in exercise, a healthy diet, building up a social network and solid interests, which will help you at a later stage when you retire.”

Now that she is retired, Lorié is enjoying every minute of it. “Being retired is absolutely wonderful. The freedom to be able to do whatever you like is bliss!”

Her days are now spent taking long walks with her two dogs and going on trips, visiting friends from all over Europe, including her birthplace, the Netherlands.

New opportunities

Retirement shouldn’t be different from any other stage in life, according to Westendorp. What’s important is to view it as a time of opportunity, whether to develop a second or a third career, or to travel the world or take up a new hobby. Of course, you need to take care of financial arrangements to ensure you’ve got the necessary funds to pursue your dreams and goals. And you need to keep up with personal development and your social life to maintain your emotional balance.

The downside is potential failing health or even a physical handicap. The flip side is the inner strength you’ve developed over the years and the experience to know how to deal with whatever life throws at you — and come out smiling.

LOIS HOYAL is a former correspondent for Bloomberg News and has written for many magazines and newspapers, includingThe Guardian andThe Times . She has also published two books. Contact: loishoyal@gmail.com

You can find more tips for older workers in our How to… section on page 76.

From holiday to structure

When she retired at 61,Renate Finke ’s first impulse was to get on her bike. An avid cyclist, she took a number of one to two-week bicycle tours around Germany. Now firmly in the grip of the travel bug, Finke went on holiday every month of 2017, including a cruise and a trip to Myanmar.

After 12 trips in as many months, Finke started to slow down. “When the feeling is over that you’re on holiday, you have to sit back and think about what you want to do and then structure your life.”

A keen track-and-field athlete, the 64-year-old decided the time was right to earn her trainer’s license for track and field for local gymnastic clubs. She now hopes to become a track-and-field trainer for other retired people. Finke has also become involved with the refugee community, giving German lessons, starting a walking group for refugee women and helping refugee kids with their homework.

Finke can live out her retirement dream largely because she prepared financially for it. “From the age of 50, every five years you should review the saving instruments you have, how much state pension you will receive and whether and how much you have to save in addition,” advises Finke, a former pensions expert at Allianz AG.


Foto: Lukassek/Shutterstock.com; Illustration: sorbetto/iStock.com