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Life after work

Retirement and your mental health

30 October 2017

Retired man walking along beach in the wind

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

It can be hard to stay engaged and keep a positive outlook in retirement, but advances in technology can help enormously. For example, if you are interested in volunteering, websites such as Good Company can instantly put you in touch with hundreds of opportunities, charities and individual projects. Or other options such as renting out a spare room on Airbnb or driving for Uber will not only contribute to keeping you more connected, you can also make a bit of extra cash.

The success of businesses such as Airbnb and Uber have given rise to dozens of other great services that utilise the internet and smart phones, without which they wouldn’t exist. Here are some examples.

A dog’s life

Another newer business, Mad Paws, combines pet-sitting and the pleasures of cuddling, patting and looking after someone else’s pets, but not having them for “keeps” with a bit of extra income.

Mad Paws is also a great service for retirees who want to go travelling but fear leaving their beloved pets or having to put them in a kennel or cattery which can prove traumatic and be expensive.

Co-founder and CEO, Alexis Soulopoulos, started Mad Paws in 2014 after pet sitting for a friend who was struggling to find a place for his Labrador. After just three years Mad Paws has become Australia’s largest online pet sitting community, working to connect pet owners with the perfect sitters across Australia.

Like the “Airbnb of the pet world” the company acts as the middle man, matching owners with the perfect sitter for their pet. Mad Paws offers a range of services including overnight services in the owner’s home OR sitter’s home (whichever the pet owner prefers) or daytime services such as pet day-care, house visits and dog walking.

How green was my garden

Along the same lines, Helen Andrew created Spare Harvest, an app and website that connects people within a local area to share food and garden resources.

“We are finding people who have retired have more time for their garden and they are connecting with other gardeners in their community to share, swap or sell excess produce, plants and various garden items,” she says.

Spare Harvest also provides retirees with the opportunity to save some money by sourcing other members’ excess resources. They can also make a little extra money from their garden by selling what they can.

“Not only is gardening a wonderful physical and mental wellbeing activity, but when our members connect with another like-minded person, they are developing their social network which also enhances their wellbeing,” says Andrew.

Professional help

When it comes to retirement planning, employers and super funds have traditionally assisted people with financial aspects. However, as awareness of employees’ psychological wellbeing has increased, so too has the knowledge there is more to a successful retirement than money.

SuperFriend is a national mental health promotion foundation focused on making it simple for employers to create mentally healthy workplaces.

The SuperFriend Planning for a Mentally Healthy Retirement Seminar was developed in conjunction with the Australian Psychological Society and is delivered by accredited psychologists. Seminars range from 30-60 minutes and teach people how to protect against poor mental health during retirement.

Australian life insurance specialist, TAL, focuses on providing health and mental health advice for Australians of all ages.

TAL’s head of mental health, Glenn Baird, says maintaining mental wellbeing is important at any stage of life, but in retirement it’s especially important “not to lose focus on those things that help us to stay engaged and keep a positive outlook on life.”

“For some retirees, the reduction in day-to-day mental stimulation can be challenging,” says Baird.

Baird’s tips include:

  • Continue learning – having more time on your hands can be an ideal opportunity to pursue those things you never had time to enjoy
  • Stay connected – plan to see friends and family, take trips and reconnect with people on social media
  • Embrace your financial wellbeing – just because you’re no longer working, it doesn’t mean you’re not still in a position to positively impact your finances. Understanding your options and assessing your outgoings to ensure you’re getting what you really need at the right price can be both rewarding and satisfying.

“The main thing to remember through all of this is that different things work for different people, so find the balance that’s right for you and helps you make the most of your post retirement years,” says Baird.