When sportscaster Dick Enberg retired at the conclusion of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, he refused to use the word retirement. Instead, he said that he “graduated.”
Sadly, he passed away a little more than a year later at the age of 82.
His story is, in many ways, a familiar one today.
Americans are working beyond the age that previously was considered time for retirement less than a generation ago. And this activity seems to prolong their lives.
When they finally retire, death comes calling rather quickly. American retirees, according to some actuarial experts, face early passings when compared to those in other developed nations.
Research scholar Steve Vernon notes several reasons for this – chiefly economic priorities being given to retirees in other countries.
We have also noticed a reluctance to actually own the fact that one has retired — whether it’s an admission that age is gaining the upper hand or that death is encroaching, it seems that people have an aversion to addressing retirement issues.
A study by The Aegon Center of Longevity and Retirement, which surveyed more than 14,000 people around the world, concluded that most of us are really not prepared for retirement — and that retirement itself is vastly different than what most people imagine it to be. The respondents to this study displayed a surprising lack of understanding about finances.
There are some jaw dropping numbers about retirement that we collected from a number of sources, including U.S. government agencies:
1) At least 45 percent of Americans have nothing saved for retirement;
2) Many still believe they can rely on funding for retirement from Social Security;
3) More than 35 percent of those over 65 are completely dependent upon Social Security;
4) Another 60 percent rely on Social Security, but have other sources of income;
5) By the year 2034, Social Security could be running into some serious problems — funding will not cover what will need to be covered;
6) Since we are living longer, the amount of funding we will need in retirement is significantly rising;
7) The chief causes for forced retirement are health problems, caring for a family member who has health problems and job loss.
So where does that leave us as a society?
Well, to quote from my scouting days of yore, Be Prepared.
At Martin Oaks, we have always suggested that plans for final disposition should be made well in advance. Denial and ignoring the inevitable usually lead to problems — many of which fall onto the shoulders of those the loved one has left behind.
The lack of preparation for retirement, indeed the almost denial that retirement lies ahead, reminds us of the denial of our eventual demise.
Probably the best piece of advice we have heard from experts is to face your situation honestly.
If you need help, advice, seek out those who have the background in the specific area of your concern to review your situation.
One piece of good news: while it is true we are living longer, it’s also true that the presence of older folks in the workforce has been steadily increasing since the 1940’s. Studies show that those who continue to work are considerably happier and considerably better off than those who don’t.
Everyone is faced with a different set of circumstances — health concerns can sharply limit your options. But ignoring the issues of retirement seem to be a sure ticket to problems during retirement.