Mark this down as another reason to build that strong circle of friends and family: women tend to enjoy and are happier in their retirements than men, reports a study by the BMO Retirement Institute, a division of the Bank of Montreal. Why? In part thanks to their social networks, notes one of the findings in the report, which based its results on existing surveys and data available.
“If men are counting on their spouses to keep them busy in retirement, they may be surprised to find that women have already figured out how they will pass the time — and it may or may not involve their partner. Women have developed strong social support networks with family, friends and their husband,” notes the report. “Women are more likely than men to describe their retirements as ‘very successful’ and other studies have shown that women tend to become happier as they get older,” it also states.
In looking through this report, Pam McCloskey — Barrie, Ont.-based family friend and an active retiree — came to my mind. McCloskey, now 60, retired at age 52 and is fully living her retirement: travelling to Europe, power walking, taking cooking classes, learning to quilt and more. So I thought I’d quiz her on life as a retired woman.
Q: What was your attitude going into retirement?
A: I was excited and nervous at the same time. My husband was retired already and frustrated spending time alone when I was working. I came home one night and there was an RV in the driveway; he had decided he would head south each winter and I could come down on my vacation. That’s when I thought — I’d better see what I can do to join him on a full-time basis. I was 52 at the time, so a few years short of scheduled retirement. However, I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of an early retirement opportunity from my employer.
Q: How are you spending your retirement?
A: I wanted to learn to quilt right away — I never had time to do that when I worked. I also took up power walking and my daughter and I joined the Running Room to participate in clinics to train for ½ marathons. I can’t express the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first half in Ottawa in 2005. I have lost track of the number of races that I have participated in since. I also enjoy reading, knitting, sewing and gardening. I like to learn new things and am now looking forward to classes in the fall in advanced knitting.
However, the biggest change for me would be losing my husband. I’m so very grateful I took advantage of early retirement because it gave us four years together before he died. We loved to travel and would go to Texas for the winter just after Christmas and return mid-April. While in Texas, we would travel into Mexico and enjoy a whole new world that we hadn’t experienced before.
Q: How much do the social connections you made pre-retirement to keep busy?
A: I’ve kept in touch with quite a few former business associates and enjoy getting together occasionally for lunch or dinner. As well, we had made great friends when we travelled and I have maintained contact with many of them and see them occasionally as well. I have a network of great long-time friends that my husband and I had both together and separately.
Anyone else tempted to schedule sushi with a friend?
Want more happiness news? Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB