Foolproof Formula to Building Meaningful Relationships After Retirement
What comes to mind when you think of retirement? If all you envision is playing golf all day or lounging on the beach with a book in hand, it may be time to reframe your mindset.
People are living longer lives. The average life expectancy for Singaporeans is currently 81 years for males and 86 years for females, and this is expected to increase over the years due to medical advancements and more active lifestyles. Couple that with the current retirement age of 62 and you’ll find that you may have more years in retirement than you might have imagined.
While there’s nothing wrong with spending your days on the beach or golf course, you’ll find that your retirement years can be much more fulfilling when you spend the time forming meaningful relationships.
Humans are inherently social and wired to thrive on connections with other people. Besides chasing away the depression and loneliness that may occur in retirement, a focus on building meaningful relationships can also help you lead a more purpose-driven life.
Not sure how to go about it? Read on for ideas on how you can build meaningful connections in retirement.
Volunteer and befriend those in need
Finding it tough to meet new people? Perhaps consider volunteering. It’s a great way to connect with the community and it benefits your health too! Studies have shown that senior volunteerism has been linked to better physical health, quality of life and reduced rates of developing depression. That’s hardly surprising given that volunteering gives you an increased sense of accomplishment.
To start volunteering, find an opportunity that you are comfortable with. For 72-year-old Madam Maisie Yang, it’s sharing her love of cooking at the REACH Community Cafe. She’s happiest when preparing healthy meals for other seniors but has also benefited by gaining a wider social circle and healthier mindset through volunteering.
Meanwhile, for Ms Martha Ee who is more than 80 years old, age is not a barrier when it comes to befriending others. Armed with knowledge in home visits, she signed up for RSVP Singapore’s MyBuddy programme to provide social support to other elderly beneficiaries and has since formed close relationships with many of them.
Volunteering is a meaningful way to enrich the lives of others as well as yours. It may start off with the beneficiaries needing your help, but oftentimes you’ll find that you end up benefiting the most. Volunteering helps you form new friendships, build self-assurance and learn new skills. Most of all, it equips you with the knowledge that you have the power to make a difference.
There are many ways to volunteer, whether it is joining a befriending programme, sharing your IT knowledge, or even becoming a guide. For more ideas, visit the Organization of Senior Volunteers (RSVP) to find out how you can touch the lives of others.
Become a mentor and change lives
By the time you retire, you would have amassed decades of professional and life experience. Instead of keeping your skills to yourself, consider sharing your vast expertise by becoming a teacher or mentor. This is perhaps one of the most meaningful relationships you can build as you are making and impact on and empowering someone else.
Make a difference by connecting with people who can benefit from your time and life experiences, whether it is mentoring at-risk primary school children or youths who are seeking guidance on their careers and future.
When you mentor someone, you are not only influencing their lives but also enhancing their abilities to help others.
Former IT executive 60-year-old Lilian Chua, who has been tutoring and mentoring children since her retirement, agrees: “Children are the foundation of our society, grooming them well ensures a good society in the future.”
But young people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from your knowledge. Take a leaf from semi-retiree 67-year-old Kendra Ong, who has been helping seniors navigate the digital age by equipping them with valuable IT skills.
Mentoring is a good way to keep your skills relevant and gain access to different perspectives. Along the way, you may also learn more about yourself. But more than that, mentoring offers a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing you have empowered someone to change their lives for the better, or that this positive impact can multiply manifold when your mentees go on to pay it forward.
Pursue a new hobby and find your community
Have you always been an avid crafter, or toyed with the idea of picking up a new skill? Or perhaps you’re determined to increase your fitness levels. As you pursue your new-found interest or hobby, take this chance to form your own tribe of people who share the same passions. It’ll make the journey much more enjoyable as you get to inspire and learn from each other.
Community classes and hobby groups are a good starting point. When you join them, you get the benefit of meeting like-minded individuals who share your interests. From sharing tips and motivating each other to practicing together, it’s a great way to expand your social circle as you work on developing your skills. Such groups may even become an introductory point to long-lasting friendships.
Take the case of 72-year-old Madam Hajjah Asnah Pajaroin. She met her best friend at a senior activity centre when they were in their sixties and bonded over cooking and exercising daily at the centre.
Meanwhile, 66-year-old Mr Ling Lik Kwok and 66-year-old Mr Goh Teng Chiew picked up an appreciation for contemporary art during their silver years. Initially knowing nothing about art, they became fans after participating in the Singapore Art Museum’s Kopi, Teh and Contemporary Art (KTCA) programme, and are now proud docents who conduct guided tours for other seniors.
Become social media savvy for greater connectivity
Who said social media was just for the younger crowd? Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a good way for you to keep in touch with old friends, family and ex-colleagues. With safe management measures underway, social media becomes even more relevant.
Just ask Dick Yip, a retired physical education consultant who started a ukulele amateur group 12 years ago. In response to the pandemic, he moved his jamming sessions with about 50 other active members to Facebook instead. On top of staying connected with existing members, they managed to expand their reach and repertoire and jam with ukulele players from overseas.
Facebook groups are also great for meeting people who share your interests. Are you an urban gardener, a self-professed cook, or fan of wildlife? With groups such as Singapore Urban Gardening, Otter Watch and Singapore Hikers, you are just one click away from joining a community that allows you to share tips, gain new knowledge, and form friendships along the way.
Physical meetups and face to face interactions may be kept to a minimum due to the pandemic, but that shouldn’t be a reason to halt your social interactions. With social media, you can continue to foster your friendships and even make new ones with others who love the same things as you do.
Reconnect with family
Retirement is your chance to do more with your family. Now that you have the time, use it to strengthen your relationships with your family and friends. Spend more time with your loved ones; enjoy the small moments in life, be it gathering for dinner with your children or watching television with your spouse.
For 76-year-old retiree Mr Michael Koh, a former customs officer with the Customs Narcotics Dog Unit, retirement has allowed him to bond with his 12-year-old grandchild, Dylan Seow, over workout sessions. Thanks to him, Dylan can now execute a bar pullover and has this to say about his grandfather: “He is very inspirational, fit and patient.”
If you have the extra time and energy on your hands, grandparenting - such as helping to care for your grandchildren - could bring the whole family closer. And who knows, you may even get another shot at experiencing moments that you may have missed in your own children’s younger years.
At the same time, take the time to connect with extended family such as your siblings or cousins, especially if they are living abroad elsewhere. Reminisce over shared memories from your childhood or commiserate over issues that they can empathise with. If you haven’t been spending as much time with them as you like, it’s not too late to catch up now.
Become a foster parent
Age is just a number when it comes to caring for children in need. If you have the resources and energy, fostering can make a vast difference to the lives of children who come under your care. Besides giving them a safe, stable environment, foster parents also play an important role in the child’s upbringing and future success.
In 2001, Madam Hawa Bee Mohammed Hussain and her retired husband Abdul Rahim Moidin, then 43 and 51 years old respectively, took in two boys with special needs. Two years later, they took in another baby girl with special needs. She was so dedicated to their care that she left her job to look after them, together with her husband and teenage daughter. Now, all three foster children have grown and are blessings to the family.
Keen on fostering? Requirements for fostering children are straightforward. Some of the requirements include being married, medically fit for childcare, and having a minimum monthly household income of S$2,000. Find out how you can qualify here.
Continue working and share your knowledge with others
Working may sound like the antithesis of what retirement is, but it is in fact, a great thing to keep doing if it is something you love.
If you are passionate about your chosen profession, why not continue to do it under re-employment or on a part-time basis? This includes roles such as consultants and trainers that lets you impart your knowledge and continue to build up the industry.
You can even choose to do it full-time like Dr George Khoo Swee Tuan, who is likely the oldest working doctor in Singapore at 93 years old. Running a clinic five and a half days per week, he has no intention to retire anytime soon as he enjoys what he does for a living.
Or you could start your own business if you have a talent or hobby that can be monetised, such as 65-year-old part-time model Ong Bee Yan, who started modelling at the age of 63. While apprehensive at first, Ms Ong now enjoys learning new things and interacting with others in her line of work, and hopes to inspire and encourage fellow seniors to take up new challenges.
Don’t be afraid to start something new. More often than not, you will meet supportive people along the way and forge new friendships. As an added plus, you will also be contributing to your retirement fund!
With meaningful relationships, retirement can be fulfilling
Humans are social creatures. Social connections may take the boredom out of retirement, but it is meaningful relationships that define how fulfilling your third age will be. To make the most out of your golden years, plan for your retirement early so that you have the freedom to focus on what truly matters when the time comes.
Find out how you can grow your retirement fund with these plans, or speak with our friendly advisors to get started.