My New Year’s Wish for You
By Joyce Wayne
2023 wasn’t the easiest year for retirees, or for that matter, anyone else. In one way or another, wars, pandemics, and inflation affected all of us. Still, I’m looking for a brighter take on the new year, where we can spread our wings, try new things, make new friends and keep old ones. For retirees, the biggest concern is to feel secure, including where we live, who we live with, our financial outlook and our health status.
It involves digesting a great deal of information, making realistic plans — and, let’s face it — some good fortune. Just before Christmas, my daughter and I met for coffee. She is 40 years younger than me, my first and only child, and we have a loving, close relationship. As she gets older, the relationship has changed and matured, and often, I find myself taking advice from her rather than the other way around. She’s concerned whether her stepfather, my husband, and I are well-prepared for the future. During our coffee shop conversation, she said, “I want you and Sandy to feel that you can stay in your home as long as you want. Whatever is necessary to keep you comfortable and safe at home, is what we’ll do.”
Her words made my heart sing. She knows how much we cherish our home and how devoted we are to our Great Pyrenees, Rufus, who’s never known another home. We treasure living in Bronte, at the west end of Oakville, near Lake Ontario. Our home is modest, but set up entirely how we want it to be. Still, it’s a townhouse with many stairs. My daughter wants me to know that we’ll find a way to navigate those stairs in future years, as we assume climbing them will become increasingly difficult. She doesn’t want me to worry about finances. She wants me to enjoy my retirement, take care of my health, continue writing and publishing, and spend time with friends. She wants me to be happy and fulfilled.
Coping with Elderly Isolation
She doesn’t want me to feel lonely or isolated. What more could anyone want, I ask myself? The honest answer is nothing. In fact, reports on the increasing number of older adults who feel lonely proliferate. The statistics in the most recent National Institute on Ageing (NIA) report are disturbing. The NIA’s Ageing in Canada Survey found that as many as 41 percent of Canadians aged 50 years and older are at risk of social isolation, and up to 58 percent have experienced loneliness.
According to the report, “both social isolation and loneliness remain significant concerns regardless of age, but the oldest Canadians, aged 80 years and older, appear to fare better and report less social isolation and loneliness compared to their younger counterparts aged 50–64 years and 65–79 years.” Sadly, this statistic points to the increasing obstacles to social connection experienced by recently retired retirees.
Living in your own home makes a difference. The report’s authors write: “The NIA survey revealed that older Canadians living independently in their own homes were less likely to experience social isolation and have feelings of loneliness than those living in someone else’s home or other types of dwellings such as a care setting.”
My New Year’s message for you is the same one as my daughter offered me. I want each and every one of you to enjoy your retirement, experience good health, be surrounded by friends and family who genuinely care about you, and make sure that you take the time to try new experiences by engaging in hobbies and interests that test you physically and mentally. Retirement can be the most wonderful and fulfilling time. At this age, we have both the time and the accumulated knowledge to enjoy the fruits of decades of hard work and to cherish the connections with the community and friends we’ve nurtured.
I wish you happiness and good health for the New Year!