Whether you follow your dreams and move somewhere warm when you retire or stay in your comfortable current confines, it does not change the fact that your life is about to get different, perhaps very different. Whatever your routine was or has been for years (decades), it is tossed out the window the day you retire. Are we right?
Retirees know love. We have experienced it firsthand, and we have witnessed it our whole lives. We have received tough love and probably dished out our fair share. Our hearts have been broken, scarred, and mended. We have fallen in love and, unfortunately, probably out of love. We can spell love but probably don’t pronounce it enough.
When you scour the internet for retirement tips, the results are full of information on financing, medical care, and where to retire. Nowhere will you find an article on the importance of love in your retirement years. Except here. For example: Do you know how many daily hugs an adult need to maintain health and happiness? Eight. And if you want growth in your life, you’ll need twelve.
Studies have been completed on the effects of touch with seniors. In essence, the group that was touched or hugged at least three times a day or more had more energy, felt less depressed, and rested better. Here are a couple of simple ways we can practice the art of love in our retirement years.
Books – Find books that explore your positive power. One of the two best books that Doug has ever read was “The Celestine Prophecy.” Quick read and engaging on how it affects each reader differently.
Dancing/Pickleball/Tennis/Card Games – Do things together. Instead of saying, “How was your day, dear” you’ll say, “Wasn’t today a great day, dear?”
Travel/Day Trips/Adventures – Take a trip to the zoo, jump on a cruise ship, go for a two-mile hike along the beach, or explore a new town or state. The possibilities are endless.
Schedule Time Together – One of the two most successful marriages that Doug has ever witnessed was when he lived in Atlanta. His next-door neighbors, Susan and Bob, had three wonderful young children and busy schedules. But come every Friday night – Susan and Bob had a date night. Older people can do that too!
Dogs – Who doesn’t love a dog? And talk about being spoiled? Oh, my goodness. Retirees have so much love to give that when a dog comes into their lives, it can be smothered to death. As the flame in your relationship can fade or be diminished as time marches forward, a wagging tail can, in return, give unconditional love to every pet owner.
Cats – Dog owners often don’t understand cats or cat owners; however, the bonds people form with their furry feline friends can be just as deep with the four-legged creatures that bark. The excellent news about cats is that you can leave them for a day or two without worrying about them. You definitely can’t do that with a dog – unless you can train them to use a litter box and eat their food more slowly.
Birds/Rabbits/Reptiles/Fish – Sometimes, just coming home to a creature in your home that is dependent upon you for food/life gives you a sense of purpose for you to have a responsibility, which of course, helps you feel necessary.
While the time commitment for a pet can vary significantly, there is probably a pet out there for just about everyone. When Sophie, Doug’s wonderful Calico of 16.5 years, left him for kitty heaven several years ago, he purchased a stuffed replica of her. We cannot tell you how often he has talked to that stuffed cat as if Sophie was sitting next to him.
Nursing Home or Hospital – We don’t believe any nursing home has ever turned away a volunteer (well, maybe just once or twice during the pandemic). It is the opposite, plus you’ll be able to fill your quota of daily hugs in just minutes of walking in the door! And you don’t need any unique talent to simply talk to the residents, watch TV with them or kick a balloon in a group session.
Civic Organizations – Join your local Rotary, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, or other local groups. These organizations are fraternities and sororities for adults, so not only do you forge wonderful new friendships, but you will be out there in the community helping others and sharing your love.
In the late fall of 1989, Doug and his ex moved from Atlanta to Milwaukee. Susan went home to Georgia for Christmas, leaving him at their new home with their Cocker Spaniel, Misha. On Christmas Eve, Doug walked into the nursing home just down the street and met the Activities Director. She introduced him to a handful of (also lonely) residents, and on Christmas Day, he baked and delivered a large number of cookies to the residents. Doug’s heart was soon filled with love as he saw each resident’s appreciation. He volunteered there at least twice a month until they moved away from Milwaukee. And FYI, anyone reading this can do the same thing. You don’t need the invitation to spread love and joy.
Grandchildren and Family Members
- In the 20+ years that Doug has been focused on selling real estate to retirees, the #1 reason for moving to Coastal NC and back home is grandchildren.
- Retirees have a lot of love to give, and what better audience than your children and their children? However, some folks love their grandchildren just as much but from a distance, as they feel they have already done their fair share of babysitting, rides to games, laundry, and so much more.
- One of the best lines we have ever heard was the following – Grandchildren are the reward for having not killed your children. (I think we all feel this at some point in our lives!)
- And speaking of family, many of us devote excessive time to love our parents or siblings. Case in point: a dear friend of Doug’s mother was experiencing memory loss. The four children are split between 4 states, and the cost of a good, not the best, memory care facility in Wilmington is $8100 a month.
So, when you retire and have a calendar where you keep your daily chores, appointments, or activities, be sure to put somewhere on there to love someone every day. It could be an Aunt Patricia, brother Chase, wife, dog named Butterscotch, neighbor Nolan and so forth. Whether you’re just looking for your retirement home or ready to move to Coastal, NC, we will be here waiting to help you through that process!