By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead.
The best-laid plans of mice and …. a well known saying that takes on a whole new meaning when discussing plans for retirement
Last week we spent hours in meetings in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham asking the question: “What do you wish you had known before you retired?”
A simple question with seemingly an unlimited number of answers, but one theme came up over and over again, and that is, plan as much as you like, but be prepared for all those plans to be thrown up in the air.
Or put another way, enjoy life to the full while you can, because you never know what is around the corner, whilst keeping a wary and sensible eye on what you hope is to come.
And it is clear that for most people there is a lot to come as long as you are open to the opportunities – the many opportunities that already exist across the bay.
When faced with the question ‘what do you wish you had known before your retired’ the answers, not surprisingly fall into various subject headings, and at the top of the pile is finance.
But it is not just a lack of money that concerns people it is also about what they should do with what they have got – there are a lot of sharks out there that would love to get their hands on your money, so we will be looking at ways of helping make sure that they don’t.
Fortunately, the majority of people who attended our Next Steps workshops are happy in retirement, but sadly that cannot be said for everybody, and at the end of this exercise we want to help as many people as possible to get into the first category – happy.
We know we can’t help everyone, because, with the best will in the world, life gets in the way, but it is clear even at this early stage of the project that some things work, and some things definitely don’t.
We asked our participants to concentrate on five main areas – participation, relationships, finances, health and housing and asked them not just what have been the biggest issues they have faced, but what has helped overcome them.
The answers have been fascinating and creative in every area, and we will be collating all that information to share with others as the workshops develop – perhaps as a web-based resource as well as in print form.
But if I was to pick just a handful of nuggets to share in the short term then it would be in the following areas:
- Housing – look around your home before you retire and work out what you might need – should you consider downsizing or stay put and make alterations that will cover every eventually. Is the house in the right place – you might need to give up the car.
- Health – eat healthily, even when on your own you still need your five a day and make sure you exercise – you don’t need to train for a marathon but you do need to find something to keep you fit, and it is a good idea to keep an eye on your weight. And don’t forget your brain, it needs exercising too.
- Relationships – keep your friends close and don’t be afraid to make new ones. If you become single, you may find couples strangely reluctant. Within your main relationship, make sure you share your knowledge so that one can always take over if the other needs it. (And perhaps a little tongue in cheek, be nice to your kids, they might be the ones choosing your care home).
- Participation – seek out groups and organisations that interest you – there really is something out there in the Bay to suit everyone and do not be shy about going along, as many other people feel just like you. There are also numerous volunteering opportunities in just about every sector for you to get involved in. And it never is too late to learn that language or take up that musical instrument.
- And finally, the big one. Finances – prepare for retirement by jettisoning all that debt and wherever possible and if relevant, the mortgage. Seek sound independent financial advice, but be careful. Be sure you to check you are getting all you are entitled to. Consider a part-time job given that there is no law now that says you have to retire. That is entirely up to you.
We have much work to do, and the above is just a flavour of the subjects we will be tackling over the coming months, and hopefully, at the end of it we will have something of value to everyone in the bay either planning retirement or having already retired, make the most of it.
Watch this space.
For more details or to get involved please email: Davidgledhill@torbaycdt.org.uk or call on 01803 212638.
The clips below are interviews recorded with residents of Torbay, who were all asked “What do you wish you’d known before you retired?”