Adults over the age of 45 are more interested in achieving peace of mind when it comes to financial goals than accumulating wealth.
According to a Merrill Lynch study, conducted in partnership with New Wave, retirement has been redefined, with people expecting to live and often work longer than any preceding generation, and taking different approaches to preparing for and living their best life during these years.
The study is based on a nationwide survey of more than 6,300 respondents over age 45 that was conducted in January.
It found that today’s retirees are largely not retiring. They view the longevity bonus as a chance to explore new options, pursue old dreams and live life to the fullest. Fifty-seven percent of Americans consider retirement a whole new chapter in life. Many view it as an opportunity for career reinvention, with 51 percent of pre-retirees who plan to work in retirement indicating they want to launch into a different line of work altogether.
Within many families, one or more individuals may be struggling financially. Balancing an individual’s or couple’s retirement needs with the needs of parents, siblings, children and grandchildren is a growing and complicated challenge. Fifty-two percent of parents expect to provide their adult-age children with some form of ongoing support – be it financial, health care, housing or education – and 35 percent believe they will need to support their grandchildren in such ways.
People find comfort, meaning and safety in connections with family, friends, communities and trusted guides during their later years. For many, work can play a significant role in maintaining a social network. Although pre-retirees think a reliable income is what they will miss most about leaving their career, retirees find that it is actually the social connections they miss most.
Today’s retirees are defining happiness not in terms of dollars but in terms of new experiences, peace of mind, helping family and making a difference. When asked what is most important to pass on to future generations, respondents indicated their top priorities are values and life lessons (74 percent) - which are viewed as more than twice as important as financial and real estate assets (32 percent).
The major concerns expressed had to do with health care, outliving one’s assets and deciding where to live in retirement.
Although many people consider early retirement a sign of financial success, the number one reason that people retire early is actually the loss of health. The cost of healthcare tops these adults’ list of retirement worries – even more so among the affluent (37 percent and 52 percent, respectively).
Not knowing how long one is going to live causes insecurity about the ability to support a long life. Serious health problems, being a burden on one’s family, and outliving assets ranked among respondents’ top concerns when asked about their views on living a long life (72 percent, 60 percent, and 47 percent, respectively).
Whether it is the nearly half (45 percent) of Americans looking for help deciding the best place to live during retirement, the 38 percent who expect to provide housing support for family members (including inviting them to move in), or finding ideal housing or eldercare for parents (40 percent), decisions about living arrangements are among the most important when it comes to retirement planning.
Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is a provider of wealth management and investment services. Age Wave focuses on population aging and its business, social, healthcare, financial, workforce and cultural implications.