Retirement Security: Not Just About Money

By Shlomo Maital


   Writing in the American Psychologist (2016, no. 4.),   Jacquelyn Boone James and Christina Matz-Costa, along with Michael A. Smyer, make a simple, key point. Retirement security is NOT just about having enough money.   It is also about “psychological security” — the desire to stay engaged, contribute to society, and feel a sense of belonging in later life.

     I am 74 and am keenly aware of this. At this age, it is a daily struggle to remain relevant for those around me. How to do it?

     Find new and better ways to “create value”, the mantra of entrepreneurs. Support grandchildren (and children), and provide them with the previous-generation computer, tablet, smartphone or automobile; encourage them, give gentle advice, and just be there to listen. Be a good colleague. I regularly bake bread for my officemates; small but for them, noticed and valued.  

     Bring your experience to the table. Do it gently, because the world changes rapidly – but often, noting what has gone before is of value to those who are unaware of it.

   Generate lots of ideas, and then give them away – let your colleagues grab them and run with them, and even own them.   Giving up a child for adoption is painful, but giving up ideas for adoption can be glorious.

     Give praise and encouragement generously. Often praise (when deserved) is a scarce commodity. Help even the score.

       Be a good listener. Offer your ear to your colleagues and your family, and simply listen attentively. Sometimes, that’s all they want. Not solutions, or suggestions, but simply, someone to listen.

       Invest time to keep up to date. A key part of relevance is knowing what is going on today. If your knowledge is dated, and it quickly becomes so, it will be less and less valuable, and you will be less and less relevant.

         Work at creating value for those around you daily, make it a part of your life, and you will ultimately achieve a large measure of psychological security, because you will be needed by those you love and care about – and nothing can be more important or meaningful, for seniors.