Health tops money for aging boomers
With so many studies coming out these days saying Canadians are not financially prepared for their retirement, it may come as a bit of surprise to hear that money is not necessarily the biggest concern of baby boomers who are heading into that phase of their lives.
A recent poll by RBC has found that Canada’s younger boomers between the ages of 50 and 59 are more concerned about their physical rather than their financial health.
Seventy per cent ranked changes to their physical health above finances on the list of top challenges they expect to face in retirement.
Finances ranked a distant second, with 57 per cent expecting changes to income to be a challenge in retirement.
Within that ranking, 73 per cent of men said they are particularly concerned about changes to their health, compared to 66 per cent for women.
“Younger boomers are more health conscious as they near and enter retirement,” said Amalia Costa, head of retirement strategies and successful aging at RBC.
“Watching their older relatives and friends age has made this generation more aware that good health is not something to take for granted. What they aren’t yet as aware of is that health issues of their loved ones may have an impact on their retirement plans, not only on their finances but also in terms of time commitment and emotional stress.”
Retirement in itself might actually be injurious to your health.
According to a study out of the United Kingdom, retirement over the long term can increase the likelihood of developing depression and at least one physical illness.
The study, conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a pro-free-market think tank, concludes that health can initially improve upon retirement but after a while it begins to deteriorate due to reduced physical activity and social interaction.
“New research presented in this paper indicates that being retired decreases physical, mental and self-assessed health, and the adverse effects increase as the number of years spent in retirement increases,” the report says.
Specifically, the report found that retirement decreases the likelihood of being in very good or excellent self-assessed health by about 40 per cent.
Retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40 per cent, increases the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60 per cent and increases the probability of taking a drug for such a condition by about 60 per cent.
“Higher state pension ages are not only possible, given longer life expectancy; and desirable, given the fiscal costs of state pensions; but later retirement should, in fact, lead to better average health in retirement,” the report says.
As such, government should remove impediments to later retirement that are to be found in state pension systems, disability benefit provision and employment protection legislation.”
The RBC poll continues to underline a truth about retirement that expectations don’t always match reality.
While 40 per cent of younger boomers don’t expect health constraints or disabilities to ever change their lifestyle or independence, 27 per cent report that a health issue or decline has affected them or someone in their family within the last year.
Forty-two per cent of these younger boomers said they had already acted as a caregiver to another adult, were doing so now or expected to do so in the future, and had either experienced or expect to experience a significant increase in stress levels, out-of-pocket expenses, moving or making changes to their accommodations, and reducing the number of paid hours they work.
No matter how you slice it, retirement has its challenges, enjoyments and disappointments, and seniors need to seek out financial professionals and other resources to help them make retirement as successful and rewarding as possible.
Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.