Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Thoughts on Retiring and Aging Wisely

Most retirement articles focus on the financial. Many others presume you have as much energy and brainpower as in your youth. Here are some thoughts for folks that are slowing down.

Unrandom Acts of Kindness. Some significant unmet needs don't require a person with great energy or cognitive functioning. What's required is kindness, ideally abetted by the wisdom that usually comes only from having lived a long time. Applications: tutor a child or illiterate adult, phone or in-person fundraise for your favorite charity, regularly visit, phone, or SkypeVideo, a homebound person, perhaps bringing your sweet dog as a co-companion, speaking of which...

Adopt a dog. Save a life: the dog's and perhaps your own. So many loving dogs must be killed because there's no room in the shelter or because, after a while in the shelter, they've acquired a serious disease. If you adopt such a dog, you not only may save its life, it forces you into regular exercise--those thrice daily dog walks are the perfect exercise for older people, perhaps for all of us. And it's well acknowledged that hanging out with your pet (I prefer to call it "four-legged family member") reduces your stress and blood pressure, and gives you the unconditional love and fealty we all crave. Yes, owning a dog is a real responsibility--they need ongoing care and make travel more difficult but, as busy as I am, I find that having adopted my dog Einstein has been among the most rewarding things I've done. At, you can find the perfect pet for you. That site contains a nicely searchable database of the adoptable dogs and cats at pounds, shelters, and rescue groups nationwide.

Appreciate the sensory. My mom is old and has a poor memory but she certainly can appreciate the here-and-now. I encourage her to listen to beautiful music, look at photos, get massages, enjoy the beauty apparent when one takes a walk and is observant, and enjoy the wonders available on the TV and computer screens. My mom, fortunately, is still physically vigorous but even if you're not, you can enjoy sensory pleasures--of all sorts. Until recently, my mom had a boyfriend.


Dave said...

Dr. Nemko,

You give excellent ideas and advice, as always. My parents adopted two Bouvier des Flandres (rescue dogs) several years ago. One was found wandering the streets dazed and severely dehydrated. These dogs turned out to be wonderful, loving companions.

Can I ask for your opinion on 401(k)s? I would also like to know if I can qualify for a full state pension if working two half-time jobs. What are the rules on this?

Thank you.


Marty Nemko said...

401ks are in most cases a wise first-choice place to put savings beyond what you might need short-term. I know nothing about pension rules.