Making the most of life

Living Life to the full

Life is for living. So how are you planning on living your life when it comes to retirement?

The Money Advice Service suggests that your retirement might last for longer than 30 years – an appreciable length of time to be doing that living. But they are years when your income is likely to be considerably less than when you were at work, so careful financial planning needs to be done to stretch out you funds for as long as possible.

But that careful financial planning is not simply a question of being overly frugal – you need to live life too.

Living that full and satisfying life involves many different aspects and lifestyle choices, so it might be helpful to cast an eye over some of the main issues and decisions you are likely to face.

Healthy Living for a longer life

Continuing to work, at least part-time, after you have retired has proven health benefits, says an article on the National Health Service (NHS) website, citing a Health Retirement Study.

So, carrying on with some type of work, engaging in voluntary work, taking up a new sport or doing any kind of mental or physical exercise may all help you living life healthily throughout your retirement years.

Indeed, staying active and taking regular exercise for your mind and body is probably the single most important factor in staying healthy:

  • keeping yourself at a healthy weight;
  • helping to maintain a healthy appetite;
  • stimulating regular bowel movements;
  • strengthening your bones and muscles – so you are less likely to fall and risk fracturing bones; and
  • easing the aches and pains that typically accompany Parkinson’s disease or arthritis.

If you are not currently taking any exercise, start gradually by making sure you use the stairs rather than a lift, walk to the shops instead of getting the car out, and more vigorously doing the housework.

If you’ve already made a start and want to up the tempo of your exercises, try cycling (on the level to start with), speed walking, hand washing the car, or even playing a game that responds to your gestures and movements on the monitor of your TV, computer screen or games console.

When you have achieved a reasonable degree of fitness, you might want to consider running instead of walking, cycling more speedily or uphill instead of on the flat, or playing tennis or badminton.

Retirement Living

Probably the first thing you are going to think about is exactly where you plan to live – are you going to stay put, in the home in which you’ve been settled for many years? Or are you intending to downsize, thinking about a retirement home or, in failing health, needing to consider a care home?

The choice, of course, depends on what is right for you, but here are a few of the pros and cons of each:

Staying put

  • probably the biggest attraction to staying in your own home may be the simple familiarity and sentimental commitment to a place in which you led a happy working life and may have raised your children in a family home that is regarded as part of their inheritance;
  • you are almost certainly registered with a doctor at your local surgery and, knowing him or her over the years, might feel more confident about continuing to seek advice on any health issues;
  • you know the area, in which you might have your favourite shops, and, if you have lived there for quite some time, probably have your main circles of friends also living nearby;
  • if your health begins to fail, you may contact your local authority who take into account your being a long-term resident if you need publicly funded care and support;
  • if running and maintaining the home you currently own becomes too much of a financial burden, you might decide to unlock all or some of the equity tied up in it through either of the equity release variants of a lifetime mortgage or home reversion;
  • if you want to explore whether equity release might be suitable for your particular circumstances, here at Over 50 Choices, we are able to offer a full range of equity release schemes;
  • if you choose any of these options, you might want to make sure that your children or any other beneficiaries of your will understand the financial impact on the estate you leave behind;

Downsizing

  • even if you opt for equity release, however, you still have the upkeep of a home that has probably grown too big for you to manage;
  • the obvious choice in that case is to downsize – buying an alternative, smaller home, either in the same area you are living at the moment or moving to somewhere you may have dreamt of living in your retirement, and releasing the difference in selling and purchase price as cash on which to live;
  • as a story in the Telegraph newspaper on the 8th of November 2016, suggests, there are certain places in the country which appear to be attracting growing numbers of downsizing retirees;
  • a cautionary note is sounded by the Daily Mail newspaper in a story dated the 16th of July 2016, warning that downsizing – especially into areas which are especially popular amongst retirees – may not lead to the release of as much equity as expected;

Retirement homes

  • a retirement home might be your choice if you simply want more being done for you – beds made, laundry done, meals cooked;
  • although there is a wide range of different homes – each with different pricing structures – they are essentially designed for the “ambulant elderly” who do not need much nursing or medical support;

Care homes

  • a care home, on the other hand, may appeal to those who need nursing care to be continuously on hand, with medical interventions as and when necessary;
  • once again, there is a wide range to choose from, varying in the levels of comfort and care provided – and of course differing in costs.

Retirement Villages

Whole communities may be built and maintained with the needs of retirees specifically in mind.

With sales restricted to those over the age of, say, 50 or 60, a more tranquil environment may be achieved, free from the noisy exuberance of families with young children.

Typically designed for those retirees intent on independent living, but with support and other facilities nearby when needed, retirement villages may also provide the additional confidence of security within a gated community.

They may be run by the private, local authority or voluntary sectors, housing associations, charities, trusts and private companies, notes the website for the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC), which also publishes a directory of such communities and villages throughout the UK.

There is no strict or universal definition of the retirement village and they may come in all shapes and sizes, locations and varying degrees of onsite services. One major provider, Retirement Villages, for example, cites examples of communities with their own communal facilities such as shops, residents’ lounges, meeting rooms, bars, restaurants, libraries, and games rooms. Others may even have their own swimming pool and/or health spa and gym.

Some retirement villages may be equipped for independent living only, whilst others may provide the full range of ancillary support services such as help around the home, warden-assisted sheltered accommodation, nursing or even residential care.

Hobbies

You are never too young to take up a hobby! Indeed, the golden years of retirement might present your first in a lifetime opportunity to take up the hobby or pastime you always dreamt of – but which the demands of working for your living seemed for ever to deny.

If meeting the demands of many years at work means that you don’t already have any hobbies to fall back on, now is the time to take some up and discover the fun and satisfaction they may bring.

Keeping your mind alert and well exercised is a well-known way of keeping dementia at bay, so you might want to think about learning a foreign language or joining your local book reading circle.

Golf, of course, is one of the all-time favourites. There is no need to worry if you have absolutely no prior experience, since it is a game that may be taken up by anyone, of any age – golfers simply don’t retire. As the owner of the North Wales Golf Course and Driving Range at Park Golf remarks, golf provides a new challenge that is likely to keep your mind active and your body healthy for longer.

The Ramblers’ Association is a large, nationwide organisation committed to walking the footpaths and byways of rural England and welcomes new members of any age. If you are wondering how you might fare as a participant in your retirement, you might care to read the testimonies of a selection of seasoned members, many of whom took up the pastime only once they had retired.

It might not be quite as energetic – though old hands may tell you otherwise – but bowls is also a firm favourite of many of the actively-minded retirees. You also get the added benefit of the fact that many greens are set in charmingly peaceful and tranquil settings.

Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to keep the dare-devil out of anyone – however old they may be. There is the widely reported story of the Granny in Australia who took up skydiving on her 100th birthday!

So, you are never too young to take up any sport, hobby or pastime – even if your goals are more firmly grounded than parachuting.

Take up any of these pursuits, and you are still likely to have the time to join the other 14 million or so providing part-time care for the grand kids – at an estimated saving to the national coffers of as much as £3.9 billion.

Holidays for the Over 50's

Holidays – they are what retirement was invented for.

Research carried out by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) in their Holiday Habits Report for 2016 found that 86% of the population takes at least one holiday each year, either in the UK or abroad.

More telling, perhaps, is the fact that some of the most notable growth in the number of holidays taken abroad has come from those aged 55 to 64 – 14% of which age group said that they took more than four holidays abroad each year.

Age is no barrier to enjoying a holiday and neither, it seems, does your choice of company – or the absence of any. ABTA found that although the majority of holidaymakers (51%) travel solely with their spouse or partner, 20% used a holiday as the opportunity for valuable time spent with the extended family (a definite attraction for those with grandchildren) and 13% choose to travel alone – with those over the age of 65 the most likely to opt for such a holiday on their own.

Cruises

Cruising is not just for Old Age Pensioners, but for the more actively-inclined and adventurously inspired individual with time to enjoy a seafaring life in their retirement.

Internationally, the average age of cruise passengers is 49, says the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). At an average of 55.2 years, this is slightly older as far as UK passengers are concerned, but still gives a healthy indication of the wide range of ages you are likely to encounter – and make friends with – on a cruise.

Coach holidays

Travelling by coach may be a cheaper option and your package typically includes accommodation – and, depending on your tour, the possibility of excursions and entertainment.

The passengers on your coach might make up a broad cross-section of ages and in no time at all you are likely to have made many new friends amongst the party.

The listings website Coach Holidays offers a searchable database of more than 70 leading coach companies, with online bookings for tours running throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.

Walking holidays

When you reach retirement, it is important to continue to take exercise, so what better way than combining this with a holiday – on a walking holiday.

A company such as Contours Walking Holidays takes care of all the essential details – from accommodation along the way, your route map, a guidebook and the transport of luggage from one overnight stop to another.

If you are worried that some of the routes might appear too arduous at first, you might want to try a two- or three-day walking holiday to get the ball rolling.

Have you considered Adult Education?

An active and healthy mind leads to an active and healthy body – exercising the grey matter could be as important as physical exercise.

So, you might want to think about some form of adult education. This might be taken up in an entirely free and open-ended way simply by using your local library and pursuing whatever subject takes your fancy – now that you have more time on your hands to study and to read.

But there are other, more structured, avenues you might explore too – keeping in mind that all manner of adult education courses are more than a question of gaining a paper qualification, but simply realising the rewards of discovering something new.

If you are more serious about continuing a more formal style of education, you might also consider:

Open University

  • the Open University currently boasts a total student enrolment of more than 170,000 – of all ages;
  • since all courses are through online, distance learning, you can study at home – or anywhere else that you have an internet connection;
  • you are able to study one module at a time, fitting in the work whenever it suits you, whatever time of day and however long you want to take over it;
  • a huge range of courses is available, with each leading to a certificate, diploma or degree – if you are over 50, many of the Open University courses are entirely free;

Local adult education centres

  • for something a little less formal, you might want to investigate adult education courses run in your area – your local library, council offices, Citizens Advice Bureau, or the Age UK helpline are able to point you in the direction of available courses.
  • you are likely to find an especially wide range of course, including the more serious and other which are intended mainly for fun. They might run from anything from computer and IT courses, language classes, art and art appreciation to flower arranging.

Are you less mobile than you used to be?

Maintaining mobility in your retirement of course depends on your physical ability to get about – outside or within your own home – and the extent of any disability or impairment you might have:

Outside

  • for trips outside of home, you are likely to rely on a car – or, possibly a wheelchair accessible vehicle – a motorised scooter or a powered wheelchair;
  • in the past, you might have relied upon a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – which included a mobility allowance of between £21.80 and £57.45 a week;
  • the DLA is currently being phased out, to be replaced by a benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) – which also includes the same mobility allowance of £21.80 at the standard rate and £57.45 at an enhanced rate;
  • unlike the DLA, however, PIPs are available only to those aged 16 to 64 – so, if you are 65+ and in need of daytime, night time or around the clock care, including transport, you may need to apply for Attendance Allowance;
  • the charity Mobility provides the opportunity to use of all or a part of your DLA or the mobility component of an enhanced rate of PIPs to lease a car, motorised scooter or powered wheelchair – but does not extend its scheme to those in receipt of an Attendance Allowance;

Within the home

  • DLA, PIPs and Attendance Allowance may all be used to help make life easier by staying mobile within your home;
  • you might use any of these to help with the purchase of a stair-lift or walk-in bath or shower, for example.

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