What Old Farts Do All Day

When you retire, you gain eight or more extra hours of leisure time each day. Retirees are generally using that extra time to linger a little longer over meals, sleep, do household chores, and watch a lot more TV, according to recently released American Time Use Survey data for 2011. Here’s how people age 65 and older are filling their days:

Relax. As you might expect, retirees have a lot more time for leisure activities than people who are still working. People age 65 and older spend an average of just over seven hours per day on leisure and sports, compared to just over five hours among the overall population. “These are people who have fulfilled the dream of having the complete choice of anything they want to do, and the things they choose are surprising,” says John Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland and coauthor of Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time. “The three things that retirees spend the most extra time on are reading, resting, and TV.” Retirees spend twice as much time relaxing and thinking (0.6 hours) and reading (0.7 hours) compared to the overall population (0.3 hours for both activities). And senior citizens are equally as likely as younger people to surf the Internet for leisure and spend time socializing with friends, and only slightly less likely to exercise.

 Watch TV. Americans watch an average of two hours and 45 minutes of TV per day. Retirees watch even more, averaging 4.2 hours of TV-viewing each day. Men age 65 and older watch an hour more of TV daily (4.73 hours) than older women (3.74 hours). And people age 75 and older watch more TV than any other age group.

Sleep. The only thing seniors spend more time on than leisure activities is sleep. Retirees spend nine hours per day sleeping, compared with 8.7 hours daily among the population as a whole.

 Household chores. Retirees took an average of 2.4 hours per day to tackle household chores, compared to 1.8 hours among all Americans. People age 65 and older spend slightly longer on housework, food preparation and cleanup, and lawn and garden care.

Eat and drink. The typical American spends about an hour and 15 minutes each day eating and drinking. Retirees linger slightly longer over meals, for an average of about an hour and a half each day.

 Work. Not all people age 65 and older are retired. The typical senior citizen spends nearly an hour each day working. But seniors are less likely to work than the population as a whole, which spends just over 3.5 hours per day working. “Older cohorts of individuals are less likely to be employed, so they spend less time working,” says Rachel Krantz-Kent, program manager of the American Time Use Survey. Retirees also seldom spend any of their time persuing formal education, compared to an average of about a half hour per day among the entire adult population.

 Shop. Retirees have plenty of time to research and comparison-shop for their purchases, and they spend 0.87 hours per day doing so. Americans overall spend 0.72 hours acquiring goods and services.

 Volunteer. Retirees spend very little time caring for household members (0.07 of an hour) and helping people outside their household (0.2 hours). In contrast, Americans overall spend half an hour per day caring for family members, primarily children, and about the same amount of time as retirees caring for people outside their household. However, retirees spend slightly longer than most Americans volunteering and pursing religious and spiritual activities, doing each for an average of almost 15 minutes each day.

via What Retirees Do All Day – US News.

[if you do the math, it’s more than 24 hours in a day, so seniors must be great multi-taskers]


The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement

I now have less than 4 years to retire at 66, and every once in awhile I Google “retirement” and find a whole crap-load of links to investment companies that will help me save enough money – ha!

Since I don’t have a lot of retirement savings, my fall-back is to target paying off the house by the time I turn 66, minimize my costs, and be able to live off of the Social Security benefit.

Below is an article I ran across that does more than tell you to save more:  via The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement: How to Prepare.

When it comes to retirement planning, the top regret among American seniors is this: they wish they had saved more. In fact, a recent survey by the National Council on Aging found that this regret outranks all others, including how well they prioritized health and maintained family connections in their younger years.Retirement planning, done well, starts early in a career but intensifies in the five years leading up to your actual retirement. Once you are within that time-frame, you should be pushing hard on saving as much as possible. But this part is relatively easy once you understand what’s required. Before we get to that, let’s talk about a less quantitative factor in retirement planning: what exactly are you going to do with yourself?

Set Some Goals

It might sound like a question for young people: what do you want to do with your life? But a surprising number of folks go into retirement with no idea what they’d like to do with their time. While the money has to be there for retirement to work, happiness in retirement also requires an answer to this big question.

So, make a list of goals. Maybe you want to volunteer your time, and one goal might be to try out several volunteer opportunities. Maybe you’d like a part-time job in a field that you’ve always found interesting — perhaps a bookstore or a library if you are a big reader, an art museum or gallery if you enjoy art, or a tutoring company if you like working with children. I have a client, a retiree, who volunteers with the Red Cross and travels to disaster zones all over the world.

If you are a golfer or enjoy fishing, if you want to spend more time with your grandchildren, if you’d like to travel — some of the more classic retirement activities — then put those goals on the list, and plan out ways you can achieve them. Setting goals and making plans will lend structure to your day-to-day life, which is a very important factor for retirees used to the hustle and bustle of a long, busy career.

Practice Retiring

This may sound a little silly, but it’s actually a great planning tool. Once you are within three to five years of retirement, take a long vacation — consider it a practice retirement. See how you spend your time, and consider what works and what doesn’t. You might find a balance of leisure time and productivity (that volunteer job, for instance) that works well for you, and having that information before you officially retire will make the transition that much easier.

Simply put, human beings are happier when they have a life plan and goals, and that’s not something that goes away in retirement.

The Numbers

As you come within five years of retirement, it makes sense to conduct a feasibility study. That means figuring out what your goals are, how much money you’ll need to meet them, and how much money you actually have. Try this step-by-step process:

Step 1:  Identify your assets, income source and debt

What and how much do you have? Assess all possible sources of income and equity: pensions, retirement accounts, other resources like property and liquid savings. Next, identify your debt, including money owed on credit cards, loans, and your mortgage. Will they be paid off or continue into retirement?

Step 2:  Assess your Social Security options

Identify how much income you will receive from Social Security and explore different strategies to elect your benefits. You can register online with Social Security to obtain your latest statement. Also, use the Retirement Estimator to receive an assessment of your actual benefits, and learn about your different benefit disbursement options.

Step 3: Determine your income needs

How much, exactly, will you need when you retire? This means understanding your spending habits and creating a realistic budget. Most people, surprisingly, don’t have a firm grasp of exactly what they spend from month to month. Your list should be specific and exhaustive, as the rest of the plan is built on it. Once you complete your list, use the PSA Retirement Readiness Calculator tool to help you figure out whether you will have sufficient income upon retirement.

Step 4: Consider your health and where you will live as you age

While most people underestimate the size of their savings necessary to cover retirement income even more fail to plan for rising health care costs or the potential expense of a retirement, assisted living or nursing care facility. The protracted illness of one spouse could leave the other spouse destitute. Will you have enough assets and income to cover the cost or should long-term care insurance be considered?

Step 5: Identify gaps

Do the numbers add up? If not, identify what you must change now in order to meet your goals. Review our blog about avoiding pitfalls by adjusting your plan. You might be able to put more into savings in the years before you stop working, or you might have to adjust your target date for retirement. It is important to conduct the study while you still have time to make adjustments in the plan, rather than a year before retirement.

Step 6: Develop an income distribution strategy

Assuming the numbers do add up, you’ll need to determine from what sources you’ll derive your monthly income. It might make sense to delay taking your pension and live off of your savings for a few months, if possible, until the new tax year begins and you fall into a lower tax bracket.

Step 7: Conduct an estate check-up

The years just before retirement are a perfect time to review your entire estate. Update account titles and beneficiaries, take a close look at your life insurance, annuities, will, power of attorney, advance directives, and the like.

Working through these important steps — and taking some time to set some life goals — in the five years before retirement will help you realize the relaxation and enjoyment a quality retirement affords.

via The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement: How to Prepare.

The Last Dollar

In a few days I’ll probably appreciate it a bit more, but for now I’m simply quietly celebrating inside.  Today my bank is remitting the last payment under the divorce settlement to my ex.  No further obligation exists under the agreement.  After 30 years of work, I can now hurry up and pay off the mortgage so I can afford to retire and manage living expenses with a Social Security income.

I don’t seriously regret much of the past 3 decades and the 3 marriages over that time span, although I have to say it’s been expensive.  I have 4 great kids and 2 grandkids, and I helped raise 4 stepkids and a bunch of foster kids.  The rhythm of life seemed to dance between wonderful, horrible, and then resting in OK for awhile before it started all over again.  I’m guessing it just might continue that way, but maybe not.

Maybe I can start to let my foot off the gas now and not be so anxious about the future.  I have a lazy dog for a companion, and a wonderful girlfriend to spend pleasant moments together with.  I’m teaching myself how to cook, and joined a fitness center.  I can keep warm in the sauna in the winter, garden and cut grass in the summer.

With any luck, the next 30 years can be even better than the last 30.  Less expensive at least.


Single Senior Men: waiting for casserole?

When Jane Austin, a retired schoolteacher from Rockford, Ill., suddenly became a widow at age 69, her older brother called from Florida to warn her about “all those old guys who are looking for a nurse . . . or an insurance settlement.”

The warning wasn’t necessary. One husband had been enough, thank you very much. After nearly 47 years of marriage, Ms. Austin knew she would miss her husband’s company, but like many widows today, she had plans for the future — travel and a new part-time career as a school curriculum consultant — none of which involved managing another man’s domestic life.

That women like Ms. Austin aren’t interested in remarrying is likely to be unwelcome news for widowers who assume that the storied “casserole brigade” will always line up on their doorsteps. The notion of love-starved widows has become so entrenched in American culture that it has been a sitcom staple and the subject of an endless succession of jokes.

Q. Rabbi, when do I take my casserole to the widower — before Shiva [the period of mourning] or after Shiva?

A. Before Shiva is too soon. After Shiva is too late; he’ll already be taken.

The jokes may continue, but loved-starved widows, if they ever really existed outside men’s imaginations, have gone the way of June Cleaver. Women like Ms. Austin see themselves as part of a new generation of widows who openly, and sometimes gleefully, admit they like being liberated from their roles as wives and homemakers. While they may grieve over the deaths of beloved spouses and while some will never recover from their losses, the vast majority of older widows, studies show, accept and even revel in their roles as single women. They keep in close contact with their children and other family members, but they also go out to dinner, organize poetry soirées and plan travel adventures with other women, often making use of social networks developed during years of childrearing and community volunteering.

The same cannot be said of men who lose their wives. In a strange twist of fortune — some might call it poetic justice — age can bring with it something of a reversal in gender roles. The rise of an old girls’ network, friends and family who see women through a lifetime of transitions, often contrasts sharply with the decline of the old boys’ network, the professional associations that secure young men’s places in the world but offer little support or solace in later life.

“For many white men, old age is the first time that they are minorities,” Henry Alford, author of “How to Live: A Search for Wisdom From Old People,” wrote in an e-mail. “It can be a double whammy for them: not only are they prey to declining physical health, but they now also are experiencing a loss of status, which can beget depression and sometimes suicide.”

Older men may be reluctant to talk about these feelings, but their children often sense what’s happening. Georgia Dunn’s father and father-in-law have both lost their wives. “My dad has rekindled a friendship with his high school sweetheart, and I think he would remarry her in an instant, but she doesn’t seem all that interested,” said Ms. Dunn, 57, a retired school teacher in Mount Lebanon, Ohio. “My husband’s father is trying to establish a good old boys’ network and has some success . . . but he is really lost and lonely.”

Statistics paint a grim picture of the male population over the age of 65. While men seem to start out with all the advantages — greater financial security, fewer chronic health illness and less frequent complaints of depression — elderly men, especially those who are divorced or widowed, end up with fewer friends, reduced involvement in their communities and less contact with their families.

Left to their own devices, older men don’t eat as well as older women, are less likely to seek medical care when they are sick, and more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Older women have more chronic diseases, in part because they live longer, but older men are more likely to die suddenly from heart attacks and other catastrophic, stress-related diseases. Men over 65 are five times as likely as women to commit suicide. Divorced and widowed men have suicide rates three times higher than that of older men living with a spouse.

Detecting emotional problems in elderly men before it is too late can be a serious challenge for family caregivers and even physicians. Men of Ward Cleaver’s generation don’t usually think of themselves as having emotional problems and are less likely to seek treatment for them. What makes matters harder for caregivers is that unspoken symptoms of depression are not always the same in men and women. Women who are depressed tend to feel sad, worthless and guilty, whereas men often become irritable and hostile, or complain of fatigue, sleeplessness or physical symptoms often assumed to be ordinary signs of aging.

Men and women also appear to have different mechanisms for coping with bereavement, so that what is normal grief for one may be a sign of emotional instability in the other. In one study, women who said they were comfortable being alone were significantly more likely to be coping with their grief than men who made similar remarks.

Looking back on her 83-year-old brother’s warning about predatory men, Ms. Austin now sees it less a cautionary tale for lonely widows and more an “indictment from an old man regarding other old men.”

“Most of the men I know who are widowed are not comfortable in their own homes alone,” Ms. Austin said. Either they seek replacement wives as housekeepers and social directors, or they end up “in a chair watching CNN and the cooking channels . . . waiting for the end.”

via With Friends Aplenty, Many Widows Choose Singlehood – NYTimes.com.

Can a friend be a lover, as a lover can be a friend?

It pains me at times
that I have deliberated
over whether a friend can be a lover
I’ve had lovers who were friends
but we were lovers
then a moment arises
the need for a lover
becomes a thirst
Is it fair?
that you demand more your friend
from the picture you drew?
sadness and loneliness
so they offer
more to you of themselves
if you accept their offer
can you turn back the clock
mistakes may slip
for after a friend becomes a lover
your knowledge of each other
is more intimate
flicking an emotional switch
so you no longer react as of late
your friend has gone
your lover is here
things now become more intricate
when a relationship ends
it invariably sours
communication is broken
you have lost your friend
to further the debate
if your friend
is your soul mate
then as your lover
is it not deliberated
that your soul mate
can be your lover
they know the inner you
not the intimate first
they can read you
know your thoughts
understand you at best
So how do we distinguish
between who is a friend
a lover and
a soul mate
can they be defined?
or do we combine and manipulate
how do we know if a friend
can be a lover
as a lover can be a friend?
Or do we confuse the two…..

via “Can a friend be a lover, as a lover can be a friend? (edited)” by wigs | Redbubble.

[I enjoyed this poem; it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed poems about love.]

baby boomers living apart together

Sometimes tiny trends can have big implications, particularly when you are watching the baby boomers. That’s why a Statistics Canada report saying that 7 per cent of Canadians aged 20 and over had a significant other, but did not live with them, caught my eye. If being together but not actually being together all the time is for real, it would have significant implications for real estate and for consumer trends in general.

The technical term for those who are in a stable relationship, but living apart is “living apart together” (LAT).

There is kind of a Hollywood-chic vibe to it (think Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, or further back, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow), but most people cite more prosaic reasons than being cool for why they are not cohabitating. For those in their 20s, it is mostly because they have not gotten around to moving their stuff in to the other person’s home, with or without a wedding first. Among those aged 20 to 24, nearly one-in-three were in a LAT relationship in 2011, although 80 per cent said they did want to eventually live with their LAT partner.

To me, the more interesting trend is in those aged 60-plus who prefer to keep their own space while still being part of a couple. As of 2011, 2.3 per cent of those aged 60 or older were apparently in a LAT couple, compared to 1.8 per cent in 2001. That may not sound like a lot, but given the rapidly aging population, it is a trend that could encompass a lot of people over the next decade or so.

The phenomenon smacks of a baby boomer trend, although the data are not exactly clear as to whether it is 60-somethings or 80-somethings that are the LATs in this older demographic. Still, although Statscan does not break the figures down beyond “60-plus,” it seems reasonable to think that baby boomers – the oldest of whom were 65 in 2011 – were starting to have a large influence on the figures.

We know that boomer divorce rates have typically been high, even in later life, and that the number of single-family households has been climbing precipitously. It is not much of a stretch to believe that some of this might relate to those aged 60-plus who are not in hurry to set up household with someone else, even while wanting to be part of a couple.

Linda Nazareth is the principal of Relentless Economics Inc. and a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute

via Can baby boomers afford to live apart from their significant others? – The Globe and Mail.