Making Friends, Strengthening Relationships

In the early days of childhood, we start picking up communication skills that are continually developed throughout our lives. We make close friends, stay in touch with them and make sure we’re there for the people we care about.

But during retirement, it may take more effort to maintain those friendships. It’s important to remember that while we don’t typically lose these skills, we might lose the motivation to use them. Here are a couple of good reasons to keep up those social connections in retirement:1

  • A study by the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago found that highly social seniors had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline compared to those who were less social.
  • Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham found that using the internet was associated with a 30 percent decrease in depressive symptoms.

As financial professionals, we work with retirees every day helping them create retirement income strategies using a variety of insurance products. We’ve seen firsthand how easy it is to become more isolated when you stop working. You might find that by attending a financial seminar or client workshop, you’ll meet people in the same situation as you. Even if you feel like your retirement income strategy is well-established, we encourage you to continue monitoring your finances and participate in events where you not only have the opportunity to learn, but to spend time with people who may share your same interests and concerns.

When pre-retirees were asked what they would miss most about not working anymore, 17 percent predicted they’d miss their daily social interactions. However, when actual retirees were asked what they missed most from work, that number doubled — 34 percent said they missed their social connections from work.2

Another thing that’s different about retirement is that you’re no longer competing for career opportunities, so priorities can change. Hobbies you might have pursued during your career, like golf and tennis, may have been important to expand your network. But retirement can be a time for careful reflection; recognize that your energy, health and financial resources may be more limited now, so it’s important to prioritize what you want to do irrespective of anyone else’s expectations.3

By the same token, you may want to explore a deeper relationship with someone who’s been right there with you for decades: your spouse. Find out what your partner is like now. As you spend more time together, you might be surprised at how they’ve changed since you started working, and maintaining your relationship with your spouse can enhance your journey through retirement.4

New research has found that friendships in retirement may be even more valuable than family relationships. The quality of friendships proved to be a predictor of whether someone would acquire a chronic illness as they aged, whereas the quality of family relationships was not.5

Another interesting aspect of senior friendships is that women are more likely than men to make friends with others who are either much younger or much older. Researchers hypothesize this is because men tend to bond over activities, while women create more of an emotional connection — they don’t have to plan an event to nurture their relationships.6

One reason this phenomenon is particularly important is because seniors tend to lose similarly aged peers as they grow older. By establishing relationships with people from a younger generation, you’re more likely to maintain those friendships throughout your life.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 NEA. 2017. “The Value of Maintaining Social Connections Throughout Retirement.” https://www.neamb.com/the-value-of-maintaining-social-connections-throughout-retirement.htm. Accessed July 13, 2017.
2 Roger Whitney. The Retirement Answer Man. March 6, 2017. “One thing to do now to improve your social life in retirement.” http://rogerwhitney.com/social-life-in-retirement/. Accessed July 13, 2017.
3 Margaret Manning. Sixty & Me. 2016. “How to make friends as an adult in 4 simple steps.” http://sixtyandme.com/how-to-make-friends-as-an-adult-in-4-simple-steps/. Accessed July 13, 2017.
4 Emily Brandon. U.S. News & World Report. May 22, 2017. “7 Tips to Maintain Social Connections in Retirement.” https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/aging/articles/2017-05-22/7-tips-to-maintain-social-connections-in-retirement. Accessed July 13, 2017.
5 Susie Neilson. New York Magazine. June 16, 2017. “In Old Age, Friendships Might Matter Even More Than Family.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/06/in-old-age-friends-might-matter-even-more-than-family.html. Accessed July 13, 2017.
6 Verena von Pfetten. New York Magazine. May 24, 2017. “When Your Best Friend Is Younger than Your Daughter.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/05/why-cross-generational-female-friendships-are-on-the-rise.html. Accessed July 13, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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