Why friendships are even more important in retirement

Have you dreamed about how you’d like to spend your retirement? Maybe you’d like to pick up a new hobby, travel the world, or simply get some well-earned rest and relaxation time. But did you know that one of the most important things you’ll do in retirement is spend time with your friends? We take a look at why friendships are even more important in retirement.

Why you need a purpose in retirement

A recent study on “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement” from Edward Jones and Age Wave found that having a purpose is crucial for happiness and health in retirement. Researchers found that retirees with a strong sense of purpose are happier, healthier, more active, more socially engaged, and they actually live longer. They also have more positive attitudes towards life and ageing and make retirement one of the most fulfilling times of their lives. Just because you’ve retired doesn’t mean your life is over – a new era is just getting started! 

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group of friends enjoying dinner

Finding your purpose in retirement

The report detailed how purpose can take different forms, including through contributing to a community by applying your knowledge, skills and experience, through personal growth such as gaining new skills or meeting personal goals, and through doing things that bring joy and pleasure such as hobbies, travel, and spending time with family and friends. The bottom line here is, you need a strong sense of purpose to energise and excite you, give meaning to your life, and give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. 

While it’s okay to find your own purpose, there’s one that’s particularly crucial. The study found that of the retirees studied, 76% say they get their greatest sense of purpose, meaning and fulfilment from spending time with friends and family. A whopping 87% of retirees say they make it a priority to stay connected with loved ones who don’t live with them. However, just 45% of retirees give themselves an “A” grade for their relationships with family and friends. That tells us that while retirees find great purpose in spending time with friends, they often struggle to maintain friendships after retirement.

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four friends looking out over Lisbon city

Retirees miss the people more than the money

Maintaining a strong sense of purpose takes effort and focus – and this can be difficult. When people retire, they often find a void in their lives as they struggle to find new ways to spend their time or find purpose and structure in their life. Interestingly, it’s not the paycheck retirees miss most about work – it’s the social interaction. When asked what they missed most about their work life, 41% of retirees said it was the people and social stimulation, while only 20% said they most miss the money. 

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two friends chatting in a garden

Loneliness epidemic

This loss of social connection can lead to isolation and loneliness for many retirees, which can have a damaging effect on their health. According to Age UK, around 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely, and more than a million older people say they have not spoken to a friend, relative or neighbour in over a month. A Statistics Canada report found that one in four adults over the age of 65 are socially isolated, with little contact with others. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a huge impact on isolation and loneliness, due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that have restricted activities and interactions.

Loneliness and isolation can lead to depression and a major decline in health, with socially isolated people being 1.8 times more likely to visit a GP and 1.6 times more likely to take a trip to the hospital emergency room. 

So now we know that the best way to maintain purpose, combat loneliness and boost your health and wellbeing is to keep building and nurturing your friendships after retirement. So how do you actually do that? 

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four Trafalgar guests in a cooking lesson

How do I meet new friends when I retire?

If your workplace was the main source of your social interaction, you’ll likely need to find new ways of making friends as a retiree. That may mean reconnecting with old friends, or even making new friends! There are many fantastic ways to do this, from volunteering at community organisations, joining a class to learn a new skill like cooking or dancing, or even mentoring or tutoring younger people.

How do retirees make friends through travel?

Another great way to build strong friendships with others is to travel. When you travel with your friends, you’ll bond over fun activities and support each other to try new things. When you return home, you’ll have tons of special memories and photos you can look back on and laugh at together. 

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If you travel solo, you open yourself up to making new friends, as you’ll have time to talk and get to know each other on a deeper level. There’s something so magical about travel that encourages people to open up to others and bond over your incredible experiences. 

However you make and maintain friends, it’s so important to put time and energy into your friendships when you retire.  Check in on the people you care about, get involved in your community, and be open to meeting new people. Human connection is the key to a fulfilling life – so here’s to your golden years! 

How do you build and nurture friendships after retirement? Let us know in the comments below!

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