The retirement problem: What to do with all of that time?

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According to the UK Office for National Statistics, the average life expectancy for men aged 65 is 18.5 years, while the average 65-year-old woman can expect to live for 20.9 more years. Considering the average retirement age is 63, these figures suggest the length of retirement for men in the UK can be around 16 to 18 years, for women even longer.

That’s a long time to be out of work. Right now, you might be used to taking a few weeks of holiday each year. When you retire, you suddenly have 52 weeks of unoccupied time on your hands each year.

But having extra time isn’t always a good thing. A 2012 study found that recent retirees experience high levels of satisfaction directly after retirement, but this falls sharply a few years later. This is particularly the case in men, for whom retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40%.

The loss of responsibility and identity that comes with retirement means it’s extremely important to remain stimulated during your later years. The twilight years can, and should, be amongst the best in your life, but what exactly do you do with all that time?

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Work part-time

Many retirees find volunteer work rewarding. From mentoring children, to assisting at the library or hospital or helping a charity, there are numerous opportunities. Ironically, some retirees look for part-time work. After all, they might need the money—retirees in the UK expect an average annual income of just £17,700.

However, going back to work isn’t always a financial decision. It may seem hard to believe that you’ll ever want to go back to the 9 to 5, but working one or two days a week in a flexible manner allows you to retain your freedom and offers a healthy work-life balance. People yearning for the office can benefit from the social aspect of working in a group, the sense of belonging a job offers and, of course, a few extra pennies in the savings account can come in handy.

Buy property overseas

The time afforded to the recently retired should be embraced as an opportunity to fulfill dreams that have been unattainable in the past. Take, for instance, packing everything up and swapping rainy England for somewhere else far warmer and more exotic.

International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index calculates the world’s best places to retire in 2016. Countries such as Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia feature in a list largely dominated by South and Central American countries.

But relocation is not just about escaping to sunnier shores, it can be a valuable investment for both yourself and your family. For example, Grenada’s real estate investment programme is attractive to recent retirees as a way of having both a secondary home and dual nationality. Those that invest significantly in Grenada’s emerging economy are granted residency, meaning investors have all of the living and working rights as Grenadian citizens do.

Beyond the inherent lifestyle benefits of relocating to the Caribbean in retirement, citizenship can be extended to family members, such as a spouse and dependent children. Furthermore, property can be rented out when not in use, bringing in a nice return on your original investment.

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Rekindle old hobbies or start a new one

The idea of spending your hard-earned freedom in the office doesn’t suit everyone. Rekindling old hobbies is another great way of filling up your time. A hobby is a fun way to keep the mind active, a claim supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, who recommend that the elderly stay curious, involved and commit to lifelong learning. They suggest the elderly can benefit from regularly reading and writing crosswords and puzzles.

Perhaps as importantly as keeping your mind stimulated is keeping your body active. Sport is a very good way to maintain a social life and your health in later years. According to the NHS, the over 65’s spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. Sport is great way to keep you feeling young and helps in battling diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, depression and dementia.

Learn a language

It is often assumed that learning a language is easier the younger you are are. However, there are benefits of learning a second language a little later in life. Language experts London Translations argue that our cognitive maturity and familiarity with language systems in general can speed things along considerably. Having knowledge of our own mother tongue allows us to interpret words faster than children to whom the entire concept of language is foreign.

Exercising your brain by learning a new language can help to keep your mental facilities sharp and slow age-related cognitive decline. According to a study of 648 Alzheimer’s patients, bilinguals develop dementia four to five years later than monolinguals.

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Derek

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