Retirement Lessons from Recent Study

In the third installment of a set of studies on retirement and what it means in the modern age, Edward Jones and Age Wave recently released Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement. More than 11,000 people were interviewed between January and February 2022 via the Harris Poll, from a pool of 6,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians ages 45 and older. Another 4,000 U.S. adults older than age 18 were also surveyed.

According to the study, we spend about 10 years prior to retirement anticipating it, and now tend to view it as a new chapter in life, versus simply a time for relaxation. The first transitional years of retirement can prove challenging and a bit disorienting, but once people hit their stride in the third “reinvention” stage of retirement, where they shape post-work identities and lifestyles (a stage that currently comprises about 80% Baby Boomers), people tend to spend a lot of time with family and friends and take steps to improve their health. The last stage is a philosophical one, when people create legacies and reflect upon what mattered most and still does. It turns out what matters most is character, experiences shared with loved ones and relationships with spouses, partners and families.

The survey is based on the premise that life expectancy is generally on the rise (at least among people without existing chronic conditions) and that the number of Boomers retiring will “transform the personality of retirement.” However, it also notes that people will likely spend about 12 years with some illness, disability or cognitive decline; saving for retirement is primarily a personal responsibility (and Americans tend to under-save); and that COVID has either delayed retirement or made those years leaner for many.

Also brought to light is that nearly 70% of Americans would like to live to 100. Among those who would not like to live to 100, top factors include concerns over physical health, cognitive decline and burdening one's family. Spurred by these findings, on Dec. 6, 2022, Edward Jones announced it has raised more than $35 million toward a $50 million goal by the end of 2025 to support the Alzheimer’s Association in its fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Funds will go toward disease detection, warning-sign education and research grants to examine Alzheimer’s risk factors. With retirees surveyed wishing to spend nearly 30 years retired, Alzheimer’s poses a significant threat to well-being during those years.

Undergirding all the study findings is that to best enjoy the most positive aspects of retirement, planning is required, and the earlier one plans the better off one will be. This goes for finances and health, both. The four pillars of retirement, according to Edward Jones and Age Wave are Health, Family, Purpose and Finances. Those with the highest quality of life have saved earlier and more often and haven’t made premature withdrawals from their retirement funds. They also watched their health from an early age (potentially preventing some cognitive decline), discussed retirement goals with family and friends, and explored new pastimes and hobbies to boost their sense of purpose.

To retire successfully with the highest quality of life, the study findings show retirees attend to their health, stay socially engaged, have a clear sense of purpose, mindfully manage finances and keep them on track and are willing to course correct again and again to achieve their retirement dreams.

To hear more about what Edward Jones found in the survey and their efforts to support Alzheimer’s research, don’t miss their keynote at On Aging 2023 called “Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer’s in America.” Discussed will be the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s disease and disparities in care among diverse populations in the United States.