Looking ahead to retirement: Why older Americans are more resilient than the younger generation

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 5:15 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Driven by social, health and demographic shifts and accelerated by COVID-19, the future of retirement is now taking into account a more holistic approach to well-being that goes beyond financial independence.

A new 9,000-person, five-generation, representative study conducted in the U.S. and Canada by Edward Jones and Age Wave explores how retirees can gain confidence and find purpose in their next stage of life while considering everything from managing mental health, defining family needs and recognizing the advantages of aging.

On Thursday, Scott Thoma, client needs researcher at Edward Jones and Dr. Ken Dychtwald, a psychologist and founder/CEO of Age Wave, shared details on the new study called “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement,” providing tips Americans can use to take control of their financial futures and outlining the importance of recognizing the connectivity among health, family, purpose and finances in their journey to and through retirement.

The four pillars of the new retirement – health, family, purpose and finances – are essential contributors to living well in retirement:

· Our health spans don’t match our lifespans and as we age, health problems often arise unexpectedly, making it more important to proactively manage one’s health.

· Family roles change: some retirees are needed too much by family while others wish they had more time with their loved ones.

· Purpose is no longer dictated by work and retirees must learn to live with new time affluence, new freedoms, new choices and new challenges.

· Finances shift from a saving to spending mentality with much confusion on how to manage one’s nest egg, especially in such an uncertain, volatile time.


· Despite the grave health risk, older adults in the U.S. are coping far better than younger ones during the pandemic.

· 37% of Gen Z versus 8% of silent generation respondents said they have suffered mental health declines.

· Alzheimer’s or dementia is retirees’ most feared health condition of later life, ranking higher than COVID-19, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

· Retirement is now a time for reinvention, discovering new purpose, and the beginning of a whole new chapter in life.

· 89% of Americans feel there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of their communities and society at-large.

· Amid COVID-19′s disruptive force, there have been silver linings in terms of family closeness and how it’s led to thoughtful conversations around topics like planning earlier for retirement and saving for unexpected disruptions.

· Regardless of financial circumstances, spending time with loved ones is nearly everyone’s greatest source of purpose.

· However, 45% of Americans have still not discussed their end-of-life care preferences with anyone.

· An extended definition of family – families of affinity – and devotion to loved ones may be putting financial futures in jeopardy.

· 24 million Americans* have provided financial support to adult children due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 71% of U.S. retirees are willing to do so even if it jeopardizes their own financial future.

· Nearly 68 million Americans say COVID-19 has altered their retirement timing, and 20 million stopped making retirement savings contributions during the pandemic.

· Retirees want their money to give them both security and freedom.

· Their top worry is not a recession, but healthcare and long-term care costs.

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