If you are the first to go
I’ll hold your hand
and tell you it’s okay
If I am the first to go
I’m glad to see your face
as my parting gift
If we go together
our love never breaks
for the end of time
Part of the reason is due to frustration with male behavior, but the primary reason is that women are the creators and managers of life. The better social and organizational skills of women are needed to plan and manage the retirement lifestyle to ensure its success.
It started about 10 years ago when I noticed that many people were returning to work after they formally retired. I always made it a point to discover what led to their change of heart. There were different reasons for this, but each admitted that they could not adjust to retirement in some way. They returned to work, in some cases disabled, until they passed away.
But, what really upset me is that I witnessed one of my college buddies retire at 70 years old. His wife took complete care of him for over 30 years. She had an unfortunate fall down stairs and was confined to a wheel chair indefinitely. All his friends assumed he would care for his wife in return.
He had no plan and was not prepared of what to expect in retirement. So, he panicked instead and just moved out. No divorce, he just packed and relocated to Panama within a week. With the help of rent control, their two Social Security checks were enough to finance their retirement. With the loss of his check, his wife was forced out of their place, had to fend for herself and ended up in a budget nursing home the rest of her life.
Another retired friend disclosed that he decided to day trade the stock market for extra income. He revealed that he had lost their entire life savings of $450,000 in the market. He was disabled due to a work injury and could not return to employment. She didn't know what he was doing with the money because she left the finances up to him. He lost their life savings, their house and they now reside in a trailer park for their final years.
So, as a result of anticipating these problems, we simply plan the solutions ahead of time.
Will Social Security be around and when should I begin taking it? How to sociallly retire? How much money will I need to retire? What to do in retirement? How to save for retirement? are all common retirement planning questions I address.
Lee Johnson(1954-) was born in Washington state, but relocated to San Francisco when two years old. He was raised and influenced during the cultural movement of the 1960s and 70s. His interest in mental health developed out of a curiosity to understand the colorful street people of that era. This interest led to receiving a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University. He graduated from Fresno State University with a Masters of Social Work with a psychiatric focus in 1978. He published "A Pilot Study of Personality Type Change" as a result of thesis research in 1980. This began his counseling career that led to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This licensure allowed him to conduct therapy and marriage counseling in private practice.
He extended his therapy skills by graduating from the Biofeedback Institute of Los Angeles. This allowed him to treat high blood pressure, anxiety, headaches, insomnia and related psycho-physiological disorders. Lee transition to medical social work on cardiac and medical-surgical units required bereavement family counseling. This developed into working for a hospice doing death and dying counseling. He credits the hospice experience for enlightening him to the end of life issues. After his hospice work, he established a workers compensation private practice treating and advocating for injured employees. He became an instructor/counselor for a diet clinic advising on mental heath issues and eating. He established a stress reduction and anxiety management program for the diet center. After relocating to Arizona, he continued his practice of psychotherapy with hospitalized patients.
Due to broad interests, Lee began to study business investments and became a registered representative or stockbroker. Combining this with an insurance license allowed him to offer annuities for 401k and 403b tax deferred retirement plans. He then applied stock market knowledge to the real estate markets as an investor. But, missing the depth of working with people, he returned to counseling. He continues to do volunteer counseling and enjoys continual research and study in gerontology and retirement areas. In his spare time, Lee is writing existential poetry which you will find locaged in various places on this site. The accumulation of all this diverse experience is evidenced in his current work for women.
This may be the most significant area where men and women differ, with women being far ahead. Your social network is the sum of all the people you know and the relationships you have. Some people are high on your network, like family members and best friends. The next tier down often includes extended family, mutual friends, and colleagues. But everyone on your network provides a connection and support on some level.
We all have an established social network that we will see change in retirement. The first thing we notice after we leave work is how important those connections were. Even the casual contacts that didn't seem so important then, suddenly take on importance now. Our employment provided us with personal meaning and great social contacts. So, finding a social support extension or replacement is natural.
It’s obvious that women generally have broader and more extensive networks. This networking begins in junior high school for girls and accumulates throughout life. Female networks often have friends from different times and situations in their lives. That is, women wisely keep friends from different jobs or social involvements over time, even as many years go by. Women seem to have a genetic inclination to socialize as a survival instinct.
Women tend to be more skilled at diffusing conflict and maintaining contact, traits that reduce the likelihood of their friendships ending. Women are much more likely to lend a helping hand or to provide some caretaking, which deepens the long-term bond with for their friends. These friends are more likely to return the favor in time of need. The result is an instinctual building of a well- developed support system for life. I believer this is the primary reason for the greater longevity of women.
I am the social networker for my group of college friends and, I have to admit, it’s been very frustrating dealing with men. Trying to keep a group of diverse friends together for 41 years teaches you about their poor communication skills and narrow- mindedness. By narrow-mindedness, I mean men often live for the events of that day. You may know the old joke about how a man plans for the future --- he buys two six-packs rather than one. So, I do understand the frustrations of dealing with men and can recommend a few solutions.
Historically, the primary social support for men has been career. Men often rely on their wife or partner as a best friend. They might have many acquaintances or buddies, but the depth (and dependency) of the relationships is reserved for their partner. This balance of work friends, past buddies, and one primary relationship has worked for many years for most men. This will continue to work until the employment landscape changes.
The importance of friends to our health and longevity is beginning to reveal itself. A study(2) with 6,500 subjects tracked for seven years concluded that social isolation or loneliness is correlated with early death in both men and women. But even more disturbing is that, "Americans who said they had no one to talk to about important matters grew from 10% in 1985 to 25% in 2004." This last point shows a very damaging trend toward isolation for elders. The fact that you can die sooner without a partner or close friends should be a wake-up call for those shying away from social contact.
Some studies attempt to measure the benefit of having a large number of friends. But the quality of relationships is certainly more important than the number of friends. I encourage you to evaluate your current network to see if you have any “deadbeat” friends. Keeping in contact with difficult friends, out of habit or obligation, causes stress, and could a health hazard.
As the social networker for my college friends, I’m naturally aware of group cohesiveness and dissension. One friend always showed up late or not at all, failed to return phone calls, and used his wife as the contact person. He socially disengaged to an extreme. It became stressful just trying to get him to commit to a time we could all get together. He appeared to have lost his motivation to keep in contact with us, so I discussed the issue with him. It turned out that he felt apathy toward life outside the house also and just did not care about being social. When I told him that the group would move on without him, he just said, "whatever."
It's never easy to let a long-term friend go, but a minimum standard of reciprocity is needed to continue any relationship. You need to act like a friend to have friends. As a therapist, I could have done more to resolve the situation with my apathetic friend, but the barriers he built were too high, and he showed no motivation. In the process of evaluating my existing network, I wanted to clean out any dead or toxic elements that were more work than they were worth. I wanted a handful of quality friends or confidants that I could really feel connected to and trust.
Some of us may use the Internet as a platform for digital relationships, which is better than no relationships at all. But the deeper benefits of relationships are from human contact. The best social use for the Internet is a tool that connects us to people, but not to replace them. There are many social involvements available once you start looking.
If you and your husband make a list of all the people you know, you’ll become aware of the size of your networks. If he does not include work associates, he may become painfully aware of how small his network is. The frequency of his contact with some of these people may be very low and they may not be supportive. It’s always a good idea to network, since our friends and family will become gradually reduced over time.
Maybe your best friend has changed over the years and your number of contacts has decreased, especially after you quit work or relocated. There is nothing wrong with rekindling past relationships. After I let one friend go, I was able to reconnect with another friend I had lost contact with. I had forgotten how much we had in common, and he was excited to have me back in his network.
By letting go of one friend and reconnecting with another, I upgraded my network while keeping my number of contacts the same. We can always be networking anywhere we go, as long as we have an open mind and an attitude of acceptance. The upside is that we are going to have fun meeting a lot of interesting people.
Common Sense Conclusion: Social networking becomes essential for developing and maintaining our social support system, especially as work-related contacts diminish.
The Single Female
Some estimate that about 40% of women are expected to retire alone. Since the divorce rate is closer to 50%, that figure could actually be higher. Toward the very end of life when men die at an earlier age than women, more women are bound to be single. One stroll through a nursing home reveals the vast majority of women residents compared to the men. So, even if you're part of a couple now, there may be a time when you'll be single again.
I believe that interest in people, as shown in their social networking, is the primary reason women live longer than men. I do work with self-isolating women who are trying to figure out retirement, but that is certainly the minority. One of my consultants feels that women intuitively know they will outlive their husbands, and expect to be single in their later years. So, as an anticipated protective measure, it’s natural for women to create a supportive network.
Women’s superior communication may be a result of higher levels of language proteins in the brain that provide an increased verbal connection to the world around them. Studies (3) show that women speak almost 200% more words than men. Women may be genetically more prone to social contacts. I view a network of good friends as a kind of substitute for a romantic relationship. They may not offer the same level of intimacy, but committed and reliable friends can result in similar psychosocial benefits of well being.
Some women I know accept being single for the rest of their lives. Finding a man they can get along with has proven too difficult and frustrating for them. Their attitude is usually the result of numerous difficult prior relationships. Personal unresolved issues brought forward from childhood could compound their difficulty in finding the right man. We all need to find a social balance that’s comfortable and sustainable. Living alone, surrounded by a solid network, with or without a boyfriend, can still be a beneficial and sustainable system.
In essence, you don't necessarily need to be married or cohabitating to benefit from male companionship. Conservative women might find this statement out of line, since it contrasts with the traditional view of being married. I always encourage retirees to find their own individual balance, without regard to what society thinks or what prior generations have done. Your retirement should be designed by you, based on your individual needs and interests.
What is the main obstacle to developing male relationships at this stage? I'm told that menopause is often the culprit. Not every woman is affected in the same way, of course, but enough are affected to make a difference in their relationships. You already know about the hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, and loss of sexual interest or libido. I will suggest some ways you can cope with these symptoms in the section on sexuality.
It’s beyond the scope of this book to go into more detail about menopause, about which much has already been written. The bottom line is that if you feel menopause is interfering with your relationships and your happiness, you need to talk with your doctor to remedy this situation. Don’t let something under your control sabotage or undermine your golden years.
1. Moynihan, C.(8-28-2012) "Marriage may benefit women more than men" mercatornet.com. Retrieved on 2-13-2014 from: mercatornet.com/family_edge/view/11164
2. Vaillant, G. "Aging Well" New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2002. p.113, 123.
3. Mohan, G. (3-26-2013) "Social isolation increases risk of early death, study finds." latimes.com. Retrieved on 2-14-2014 from: articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/26/science/la-sci-social-isolation-health- 20130326
4. Macrae, F. (2-20-2013) "Sorry to interrupt, dear, but women really do talk more than men" daily mail.co.uk. Retrieved on 2-24-2014 from: dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2281891/Women-really-talk-men-13-000- words-day-precise.html
My daughter, Lindsey, and I at an art show. Fatherhood has been an amazing experience on many different levels.
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Your retirement identity is of a successful person who creatively and efficiently manages your money and lifestyle to adapt to the ever changing economic and personal conditions of the time.
Practical and Realistic
By Andreja Harde on October 19, 2014
This is an easy to understand and easy to follow book written by an obviously uniquely qualified author. The writer presents tangible information in everyday language and addresses the female retirement needs and dreams from holistic standpoint, including practical emotional and financial aspects. He offers realistic, easy to follow, achievable solutions which most of us can benefit from greatly, and in addition touches on various other aspects of retirement living. In general, this book is a useful, simple to navigate, very well written pleasant read.
...but organized so that readers can easily "pick and choose" those chapters that interest them
By marian j sanders on October 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In clear language, Lee Johnson details all aspects about retirement for women. He considers not only practical issues, such as Social Security benefits and estate planning, but the physical, psychological and social effects of retirement on women, and how to deal with them. Many personal anecdotes enliven his writing. His information is comprehensive, but organized so that readers can easily “pick and choose” those chapters that interest them, and use his book as a reference tool to navigate the complex and difficult questions that are likely to confront them during retirement years.
FREE CONSULTATION FOR LIFE
Along with the book, you will receive free personal support and advice from a retired therapist with over 30 years experience. I get retirement and I love working with people.
Creative Retirement for Women Design your future today
Cover Illustration courtesy of dreamtime.com Cover by Jolene Naylor
Segments of evolving reality
Aging has altered my time
Savor shapeless pieces
Squander nothing behind
History of expiring world
Shock waves rattle your spine
Future of temporal uncertainty
Cyclone sweeping your mind
Distractions rob the senses
Electronics hasten the pace
Capture timeless memories
Prisoners of embrace
Rites of passage of eras
Sand slipping through rhymes
Flow of waning motion
Winter of shapeless times
Have you every been to a Jazz Funeral? Would you be willing to celebrate life rather than mourn death? Would you have a band, dance, and even invite strangers to celebrate your life? That's my plan when I check out because I want smiles and happiness to be my lasting impression.
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In separating male and female retirement plans, some issues overlap while others are gender-specific. Funding retirements and maintaining good health are clearly important for both sexes. The differences between men and women become noticeable in the personal, social, and planning parts of retirement. In discussing these differences, I’ll use studies involving only women when available, and studies of combined genders when not.
One of the most powerful traits for a woman’s longevity is certainly a solid and diverse social network. It’s natural that our networks change as we evolve. The group of friends we have when younger may be quite different than the network of friends we have now.
Networking is part of our social health, a measure of how deeply involved and emotionally connected we are with other people. Since seniors are more likely to become isolated than our younger colleagues, our social network becomes an important topic to address and manage. Our network often begins with the type of relationship we have with family and friends. If you’re couple at this time, you may want to prepare for both scenarios as our relationships often change in retirement.
The INTEGRITY of your PURSUIT is your LEGACY.
How the book is NOT traditional
1. It's okay and healthy to retire single
2. Social networking can be your primary support
3. Divorcing out of an unhappy marriage is okay
4. Dating in Retirement is fun and exciting
5. Exercise becomes a vital involvement
6. Weight control and dieting are more essential now
7. Women are better money managers than men and must be involved in all investment decisions
8. Adjustments are made to improve sexual health so that its a continued involvement in retirement
9. Your retirement plan is based on past life themes done with life review
10. Each plan has specific goals that are individually oriented, have vital social involvement, and include goals for longevity.
When you purchase the book, you will receive free personal support and advice for as long as needed. I answer all questions via email at email@example.com
Q What makes your book any different from the rest?
A I show you how to design your retirement based on your personality traits and your specific needs to increase your longevity. I focus on creative income for women based on sustainability and safety. I discuss the various ways your partner may accidentally sabotage your golden years and provide solutions for prevention. I address the special needs of single women in retirement.
Q How much do I need to retire?
A First, you establish a retirement budget that determines your income needs and build from there. Affordability is really a matter of establishing creative income combined with downsizing. Many people think they need a big savings, but it's really a matter of income streams. The Creative Income chapter discusses the conventional and unusual ways to create income streams. The Give Me Shelter chapter is about downsizing and economizing.
Q What can I do if I'm afraid of outliving my savings?
A The Social Security program continues to pay you regardless of how long you live. There are other similar financial products like annuities discussed in the book. But, the bottom line may be your willingness to work part-time past retirement age. This extra employment has surprising social benefits as well.
Q Will Social Security be around when I retire in 6 years?
A I'm surprised that so many people think that Social Security is in trouble when it's really Medicare. This program cannot stop due to the millions who depend on the program for basic needs. The needed adjustments are already being made to ensure its long-term sustainability. For example, if you were born after 1960, your full retirement age is now 67. In other words, do not live in fear that this entitlement program is going away anytime soon.
Q Social Security benefits, when should I start?
A Well, it really depends on your situation. Starting benefits at 62 years old reduces your full retirement amount by about 25% for life. If your budget requires that you maximize your benefits, then you would work until 70 years old and begin benefits at that time. You can receive a spousal benefit from 62 to 70 and then receive your maximum benefit at 70 years old as well. This way you take advantage of the full range of benefits.
Q Do I have to live outside the United States to afford retirement?
A I think it can be a big mistake to leave your supportive network behind especially if you're single. If you are a couple with the travel bug, it could be fun and exciting. But, if you're considering this move just for financial reasons, you probably haven't explored all the local options yet.
Q How to retire early?
A If this is a financial question, it's really a combination of saving and investing, creating income streams, and living on a budget. All of these things are discussed in the book. If this is a personal question, then you need a well developed retirement plan that includes your personal, social, and physical goals and involvements. I discuss how to establish this plan to maximize your health benefits and enjoyment at any age.
Q What to do in retirement, I'm bored?
A It's common to feel bored in retirement when we haven't planned ahead. I present a step-by-step approach to evaluating your needs and interests and designing a social plan to accommodate them. You'll see how social involvement is absolutely vital and can be healthy on a number of different levels.
Q I know I lost interest in sex probably due to menopause, but what should I do with my husband who won't slow down?
A Its these exact situations that must be addressed in retirement. Women loose estrogen while men loose testosterone, but at different rates. Your decrease began ahead of your husband that can cause an imbalance or even feelings of rejection. Solving this problem begins with an open discussion with your partner and may end upon seeing your doctor to discuss supplements.