Next Avenue Logo

The Idea of Retirement Is Flawed — Let’s Change It!

Retirement is already changing to emphasize staying healthy and maintaining an active social life

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities
A group of active retirees after playing a game of pickle ball. Next Avenue
Credit: Getty

Everyone has their own idea of what it's like to retire. Some of us are ready to embrace an exciting world of travel and personal freedom, while others might be wondering what in the world they'll do all day. 

For the latter group, this may be colored by outdated notions of what it means to retire. The long-held idea of retirement is no longer accurate in many ways, and it's up to a new generation of retirees to change it. And Boomers, the largest generation ever to retire, are certainly the ones to do it. 

Old Definitions of Retirement No Longer Work for Everyone 

For Boomers, retirement just isn't unfolding the same way it did for their parents. One reason the old notions of retirement no longer hold true is that people are living far longer these days. Thanks to advances in medical technology and knowledge, retirees can expect to live for decades after they hit retirement age. 

Plus, today's 65-year-olds are quite a different breed in terms of how they think about life. As a result, their retirement is definitely not their parents' retirement! Today's older Americans don't want to be shuffled off to the edges of society. They're ready to embrace life and indulge in their passions, hobbies and a thriving social life. 

How Retirement is Already Changing 

There is evidence that today's retirees are doing things on their own terms. They're reinventing retirement, and the results are exciting to see.  

Here's a quick summary of what's already happening with today's booming population of retired people. 

  • People are working beyond the official retirement age. Second careers are common as people work during their retirement years. Many prefer to stay in the workforce, albeit on a part-time basis or in entirely new careers. Many choose to keep working because they still have lots to offer, and they want to stay involved. Some have new career goals they’d like to pursue because they’ve always dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs. 
  • People are traveling more. Compared to a generation ago, travel is much easier these days. Retirees are taking full advantage of this and booking trips to all the places they’ve never had the time to explore (Bucket List!). In addition, they’re traveling more often to see family members who live out of state. Over half of people 65 and older take domestic trips and almost all (99%) plan on taking at least one leisure trip per year, according to an AARP survey. 
  • People are adopting tech at a fast pace. Talk about banishing stereotypes! Today’s seniors are more technologically literate than any previous generation. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 42% of older Americans now own smartphones. That’s a dramatic uptick from just four years prior, when only 18% owned smartphones. Slightly over two-thirds of seniors use the internet and half now have broadband in their homes. Social media use is climbing among older Americans, too. About one-third can be found on one of the social media platforms like Facebook, and that figure is rising every day. 
  • People are paying more attention to fitness. Today’s retirees have fitness on their minds, which is a definite departure from previous generations of seniors. They know that staying active is important not only for extending lifespans but also for reducing the risk of having a disability. The benefits of staying active go beyond even that, however. Seniors who stay active are far more likely to feel better, have a healthier attitude, remain independent longer, and enjoy improved immunity. They’re also less likely to get depressed or feel lonely, two very serious health risks for older Americans. 

Want more information on how to stay active? Read these 14 tips on the best exercises for seniors


Today's Retirees Want to Stay Social and Active 

If you look closely, you can see a common thread that runs throughout all the ways retirement is already changing in the list above. Each of them involves some form of socialization. Whether it's staying fit at the local rec center, staying connected through social media, remaining in the workplace with co-workers or traveling and meeting new people, it all boils down to staying social. 

That could explain another growing trend among older Americans: moving to retirement communities. Just as the concept of retirement has changed dramatically in the past decade, so too has the notion of what it means to live in a retirement community. They've changed quite a bit, in fact, and today resemble upscale resort living more than anything. 

Today's retirees move to these communities because they want to stay active, meet new people and live a carefree lifestyle where they don't have to spend time worrying about maintaining a home. In other words, they're fit and healthy and they plan on staying that way for many years. 

Did you know that there are benefits to socializing? Read about the significant mental and physical benefits of socialization for seniors.  

It's All About Having a Social Network 

A strong social network is important to today's 65 and older crowd. As a result, new forms of living arrangements are cropping up every day to accommodate retirees who are fit, healthy and still active in the community. 

A rich social life is a priority and so is connecting with younger generations in meaningful ways. Case in point: many retirees mentor younger workers in their field or volunteer regularly in the community through programs organized by their retirement community. Some teach classes in their field of expertise. 

In short, retiring or moving to a retirement community no longer means you're exiting mainstream society. In fact, you're becoming part of a very large social network! 

Click here to read 7 ways living in a retirement community benefits seniors health. 

Retirement Reimagined 

If you had to summarize what retirement means to today's young seniors, you might say it means whatever they want it to mean. Rather than accepting tired definitions of what the 65+ crowd is 'supposed' to do and how they're 'supposed' to live, this generation is redefining it all. 

You've just seen how retirement is already changing to emphasize staying healthy and maintaining an active social life. That means there really are no limits! This should encourage you and everyone you know to make your own rules, chart your own course and live your retirement the way that suits your own dreams and aspirations. 

Want more information about retirement? Read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities. 

Acts Retirement-Life Communities
By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit

Next Avenue LogoMeeting the needs and unleashing the potential of older Americans through media
©2024 Next AvenuePrivacy PolicyTerms of Use
A nonprofit journalism website produced by:
TPT Logo