Research helps boomers plan for retirement

By Bob Burtt
Communications and Public Affairs

Roger Mannell, director of the RBC Retirement Research Centre at the University of WaterlooPeople shouldn’t think about retirement as one long vacation, says Roger Mannell (pictured left).

“Your retirement could easily last 25 or 30 years. You have to think about what is going to make every day enjoyable,” says Mannell, director of the RBC Retirement Research Centre at the University of Waterloo.

The centre, a unique partnership between the university and Canada’s largest financial institution, was formed in 2010 to help improve the quality of life for a rapidly increasing number of retirees.

“One suggestion for happiness in the retirement years is to continue doing some of the things you enjoyed while working,” says Mannell, a professor of recreation and leisure studies. “For example, someone who is good at organizing might want to find a way to use that skill as a volunteer, or in the community.”

One of the big mistakes new retirees make is jumping into too many things too quickly. Mannell says, “A lot of people who age successfully still have full lives, but they slow it down and have more time for savouring.” That’s important because not many of us get to do that, he adds, while we are working.

“Part of the process is being selective and prioritizing what is most important,” he says. “When planning for retirement, you also have to consider how you will adapt to changes in health, which can in turn impact your lifestyle and finances.”

To assist, the retirement research centre connects Waterloo professors’ insights on healthy aging with RBC’s financial expertise to deliver research and practical tools for retirement planning. Video series explore aging and life changes. A caregiving planner provides a checklist of things to consider if, for instance, a family member becomes ill:  How to finance care? Where to find information and support in caring for a family member?

“Most people assume they are in control of their retirement date; however, a surprising number of people face unexpected retirement due to employer, health, or caregiving factors,” says Mannell. “This highlights the critical importance of starting lifestyle and financial planning early.”

Retirement fast facts:

  • The first baby boomers hit retirement age — 65 — in 2011.
  • The latest census data shows 42.4 per cent of Canada’s working-age population was between 45 and 64 years old, compared to 28.6 per cent two decades ago.
  • Studies suggest the number of people over 100 years old will jump to 13,000 from 5,000 within the next 10-15 years.