Wednesday, January 6, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

Walter Updegrave, writing in the January/February issue of Money magazine, has an interesting article on the importance of friends when one retires. I'd link to the article, but it appears that the current issue is not yet online.

At any rate, Updegrave cites research by the Pew Research Center which shows that in addition to sound health and strong finances, friendships are a major factor in boosting happiness during retirement.

Further research by the MetLife Mature Market Institute (which has a great downloadable workbook) supports that view.

It does seem to me that I had a wider circle of friends and a more active social life when I was younger. Right now, I have only a handful of friends with whom I go out on a regular basis. I hardly ever entertain at home any more.

Updegrave's point is that we cannot wait until we retire to cultivate friendships. We need to do it now while we're working, and out in the community. Then we need to keep up with the development of new relationships by socializing and volunteering after we retire.

The Pew report points to religion as one way seniors interact in groups. That probably won't work for me since I tend not to be all that religious. But I certainly plan to volunteer during retirement. Right now, being a CASA volunteer for children, and tutoring reading in elementary schools appeals to me the most. But that could certainly change by the time I retire.

I remember my maternal grandfather complaining as he lived into his nineties that all his friends had passed away before him. It never seemed to have occurred to him that making new friends as he got older was important. That's not a mistake I want to make.


Florence said...

This is a big problem for me. I know the importance of having friends but don't put the time or energy into it that I once did. When I am not at work, I have cooking and housework and after that all I want is to go to bed and get some rest. I know what I should do but when it comes to a choice between going somewhere and staying home with a cat, a quilt, and a good book...well maybe I'll just end up that crazy cat lady after all.

Linda said...


I work as a writer, from home, so there are no opportunities to meet people through work. My co-workers are flung across the U.S. When my husband retired, we moved to a small town, away from the big towns where we had always lived when he worked. We're two hours from one daughter and an hour the other direction from the other daughter, so we see them and our grandchildren more frequently. In addition, as soon as we were settled, we began attending meetings of the Newcomer Club. We soon had a wonderful group of friends with whom we kayak, go out to eat, attend pot luck parties and socialize the way I, too, remember doing only when we were younger. I started taking violin lessons and met others who were doing the same. My point? It's not too late to form new friendships after retirement, and you may find it even easier to do so when you have more time and energy. If you're not new in town, you can certainly find a group or club that shares your interests.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I'm very active in a local community and it's brought me a ton of friends. My natural instinct is to be somewhat introverted, so I work hard to maintain those relationships.

Carol said...

I was just thinking today (as I pondered my impending layoff) that many of my "at work" friends have been laid off, and I'll probably lose touch with the remaining ones when I get laid off. Your post is a good reminder that I shouldn't take my friendships for granted, and that I need to nurture them!

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lc said...

My mother moved from her home to a studio apartment in a retirement complex in April 2009. She has always had a wide network of friends. Thankfully, more than a dozen of her friends and acquaintances were already residents. She continues to make new friends plus her younger friends (she's 90 and they are in their 80s) pick her up for special events. She is a wonderful role model for me!