Ken Dychtwald’s AgeWave puts out some of the most insightful studies on retirement. Their most recent study, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes,” explores how the pandemic has affected many older adults’ perspectives on health and financial security.
Here are some of the highlights:
- 76% of adults credit the pandemic with helping them “refocus on what’s most important in life.”
- Despite the disproportionate health risk of the virus on retirees, they reported greater optimism than others, with a majority (61%) indicating that the pandemic has given them “more appreciation for what makes life meaningful” (vs. only 46% of all others). Additionally, over half of retirees (53%) say that they now have “greater empathy and compassion for people who are struggling in ways that they are not.”
- Our sense of purpose, which took a hit early in the pandemic, has rebounded; nearly two-thirds (63%) today give ourselves a grade of “A” or “B” on “spending our time in purposeful ways,” compared to only 55% in May 2020. Retirees generally report much higher levels of contentment and happiness than non-retirees, as they feel greater freedom from responsibilities and stressors and freedom to pursue their own interests and purpose.
- 92% percent of retirees now agree that purpose is key to a successful retirement. When compared to younger adults, retirees are more likely to say that having a sense of purpose in life is important to achieving optimal well-being (69% vs. 55% of all others). Many derive this sense of purpose from family and friends, with 67% of retirees indicating that spending time with loved ones provides them with the greatest source of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. In addition, nearly all retirees believe it’s important to feel useful in retirement (93%) and 87% agree that being useful actually “makes them feel youthful.”
- This new study also revealed that there may be an untapped wellspring of retirees interested in being a force for social good. A whopping 86% of all adults and 89% of retirees now believe “there should be more ways for retirees to put their talents and knowledge to use for the benefit of their communities and society.” And retirees say they would ideally like to volunteer 3.3 hours per week – nearly four times the retiree volunteer rate over recent years.