Transcript | Retirement Reimagined

Sarah Widmeyer 0:16 

Welcome to Conversations on Wealth a podcast dedicated to helping Canadians with your total financial picture. I’m Sarah Widmeyer, Director of Wealth Strategies at Richardson Wealth. And I would like to welcome Dr. Amy D’Aprix. Dr. Amy has both a master’s degree and a PhD in Social Work, and has been providing down-to-earth practical and professionally informed guidance on life transitions to individuals and professionals alike for over 30 years. Dr. Amy is also the author of ‘From surviving to thriving, transforming your caregiving journey’, and co-author of ‘Building the bonds of friendship in midlife and beyond’. Dr. Amy, I’m so glad you’re here with me today.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 1:02

Thank you, Sara, it’s a pleasure to be with you.

Sarah Widmeyer 1:05 

In an earlier episode of Conversations on Wealth, I discussed financial considerations when planning for retirement. However, non-financial matters are just as important as you plan for your third act. For some, retirement can last much longer than they imagined. It may be therefore beneficial to view retirement as a series of chapters. Dr. Amy, can you break down what these chapters might look like?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 1:32

I’m so glad you brought this point up, Sarah, because I think the mistake that people sometimes make is they think of retirement as a long vacation. And 30 years is a really long vacation for most people. So it helps to think about that there are, for most people, typically two or three chapters in retirement. And the one that people do planning for if they do any, is that first one. And that’s the one where, you know, we stopped working. And we think, okay, all those pent-up desires we had to travel and to engage in hobbies that we haven’t had time to do, we do that in the beginning. And that period of time for most people can last a few years before they kick into a second chapter. And the second chapter, you still do all the fun things I say to people, don’t worry, you’re not going to stop doing the fun things. But life starts to take on more of a day-to-day routine. So now people start perhaps investing more in volunteer work or a project or some people do some consulting or even start a new business in retirement. And assuming that we remain healthy. That second chapter can go on honestly for decades. And then we hit a third chapter and the third chapter or the latter years of our life. And for many of us, we’re still very healthy during that time. But the truth is, if you’re fortunate enough to live into extreme old age, your late 90s, and hundreds, even if you’re very healthy, it’s unlikely you’re living like you were when you were in your 60s, we’re probably not traveling internationally, and 102. And so what happened, Sarah is that with people don’t give thought to the second and third chapters, they don’t have as much quality of life is I think people deserve to have throughout their entire life.

Sarah Widmeyer 3:23

As you’re talking, I’m almost thinking like it’s a honeymoon period. And I don’t get beyond the honeymoon period. I stay in that honeymoon period. So I’m probably a lot like a lot of Canadians, where you think about all the things you want to do. And it sounds wonderful. And gee, could I start it tomorrow, but it feels like a honeymoon period. To me.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 3:42

I think that’s a great description. And I think for many people, especially that first chapter, when there’s that, you know, again, that kind of pent up things that we want to get done. There can be a lot of joy in that. But there’s also an interesting thing, Sara, that I I’ve read this a lot recently about the fact that the bucket list, because that’s often the bucket list period, right? That having a bucket list can actually increase our level of depression. And it’s interesting, because if you think about this, what happens in a bucket list is you go do something and you check it off. And according to one of the articles I read, then what happens is we come back home if we’ve been traveling, and it’s almost we have to get that next hit that next Hi. So instead of investing and creating a life in retirement, it’s checking off a bucket list. I find retirement such an interesting period because it can be such a meaningful period in people’s lives. But I think it needs some planning. And I think the idea that it’s just about running around playing, we’re having to re examine and think about what gives your life purpose and meaning right now. And then how do you continue that in those next chapters of your life?

Sarah Widmeyer 4:52

So I think we’ve just edged into my next question for you, which is why is planning for this life stage approach even more? important in the earlier life stages.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 5:03

When you think about those second and third chapter, Sarah, what happens in them can be significant. So, you know, we know people have health challenges, and they may, they may have spouses that have health challenges and friends and siblings, that suddenly things are shifting a bit. And this isn’t all gloom and doom, I really want to make this point that this isn’t all about people falling apart physically. But there are things that happen in those second and third chapters that can be quite significant. And we don’t have as much time to recover from them. And with a little bit of planning, we can actually ensure that we have what I like to call the kind of the, the the trifecta of choice control and independence as we age. And it doesn’t have to mean that you again, have to sit around and think about every awful thing. It’s about though having an eye to the future while you’re living in the present.

Sarah Widmeyer 5:55 

Interesting. So what are some key considerations then that can help listeners make most of this phase approach and even reimagine retirement?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 6:06

I think, again, thinking about what gives your life purpose and meaning now and connection, I think connection is such a key part. And certainly, we’ve learned this during the pandemic, how much we need each other. So I think looking at the connections we have, and where we get purpose and meaning and then seeing if you’re going to stop those things. In, for example, I get a lot of sense of purpose and meaning out of my work, if I were to stop my work, I’d really have to find something else to replace that. So having an idea that ahead of time can be very, very helpful. And then thinking about how do you grow the connections in your life, emotional and social support are such key factors, not just when we’re significantly older, but right now. And we all need to work to grow our social support. But I want to share with you a question, Sarah, that I love that can really help people in planning. And I call it the plan B question. And if the plan B question is, if there were a shift in my health, or mobility, or the health or mobility of someone I love, what might I do differently. And so I’d like to share a story with you if that’s okay about that. Because I think this helps us in all three chapters of retirement, certainly in the ladder. But even in the beginning, I worked with this couple where the wife’s mom had Alzheimer’s. And it progressed rather quickly at one point, and they were retiring as a couple of husband and wife. And their plans were to travel for the first two or three years. And they ended up moving her mom in with them. And I met them about eight months into this. And the husband said to me, this is really impacting our marriage, because we haven’t been able to leave the house together for the last six months. And this was not in our plan at all. And so that plan B question, if there were a shift in my health, or mobility, or the health or mobility of someone I love, what might I do differently, would have really helped them. And so what I helped them look at is how they could still have their dreams and their plans and take great care of her mom. Those weren’t mutually exclusive. But they hadn’t really given any thought to it. And they just kind of fell into it and let their own plans fall away.

Sarah Widmeyer 8:17

Wow, what a great question. I’m sitting here. My, the wheels in my brain are spinning, I don’t know, I don’t know how to answer that question. It’s, that is a wonderful question. And so I know you’ve got other ideas on helping our listeners jumpstart these conversations. And I’ll share with you our listeners wouldn’t know, but you and I know each other for quite a few years now. And one of the first times I heard you speak, you talked about a dream book, a book to kind of draw and sketch and it stayed with me. And I don’t know how long we’ve known each other Amy, but I’m guessing 15, 16 years. And that has stayed with me and I do I have a book by my bed. And I do kind of jot down thoughts and notes and what does the next stage look like? And that has been very helpful for me. I haven’t shared it with anybody. But it’s something that I found very meaningful when you said it 16 years ago and it has stayed with me.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 9:15

Wow, I’d love to hear that. You know, it’s so funny Sara is I’m just putting together something that ultimately people will be able to access and download to be able to do that more formally. But that actually came from someone who told me she had done that for about three years prior to her retirement and looked at all these different categories and things like you know, movies, everyone was see, you know, you think about all the time somebody tell you about a book or a movie or even a place to travel to and you think oh, I’d like to do that. But writing it down means that she said I have a book filled now with all these really wonderful things. And it can include things like friends, I want to reconnect with relationships I want to grow. It doesn’t have to just be things it can be relational to or, you know, new activities. I want to try. And I think the goal is to create new chapters and to expand our lives forever and to get out of seeing retirement as what it was originally designed to be, which was a brief period of rest and reward for a lifetime of hard work. Now, I like to redefine retirement, as when you can do what you want, when you want, which means it could include work, it could include many different things. It’s not this idea of sitting, you know, just kind of idling our time away. But more about creating a life that works for us at these chapters, which can include a lot of time sitting reading a book, it doesn’t mean you have to be running around doing things, but not doing it because you don’t know what else to do.

Sarah Widmeyer 10:44 

Yeah. And it’s amazing in this book that I’ve written my thoughts and some of my lists, it’s amazing how things have shifted, but yet some things have remained constant. So for example, I really want to be near water, not like water, I want to see my feet, but water. So oceans important. So where I end up is going to have some elements of that. But I love the idea of transitions, it’s not an end. And it’s not to chairs at the end of a dock, looking out onto the water. We’ve done that in the financial services industry. We’ve painted pictures for people and painted pictures that we thought were right, you know, the two Muskogee at the dock. But no, it’s a life of transition, and planning for those different transitions.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 11:33

And that’s where the plan B question is so helpful. And I just want to say that plan B question came from my experience with my parents, and my mother having a massive stroke, and needing to move my parents, and my dad saying to me, I wished your mother and I talked about where we might want to move if we couldn’t stay here. And they ended up by the way with great quality of life after that my mom lived almost eight years. But I thought to myself, that would have been such an easy question to ask, which is, you know, plan B, if this no longer works for us, what would we choose. And the goal of all this is staying with having control over our own lives, right up to the end of our life. And having worked with older adults and their families now for, you know, over 30 years, I can say that the biggest mistake people make is not to give some thought to that. And they don’t get to have as much joy as they could have forever. You know, the older years can be really our best years with just a little bit of thought.

Sarah Widmeyer 12:30

Thought and planning, right?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 12:31

Yes, planning is key.

Sarah Widmeyer 12:34

And that’s how our advisors at Richardson wealth can really help our clients is having these conversations, but then planning and the planning. Traditional planning would say you need X amount of retirement income. But it sounds like as I’m listening to you and the three chapters and the transitions, that maybe in my own case, I would be planning for a little bit more retirement income in my honeymoon stage. And then maybe it levels off a bit. And then you know, personally, what we’re experiencing with my mom right now is we’ve just moved her into a retirement home. Now luckily, they saved and dad had a good pension, but it’s not cheap.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 13:14

No, it’s not.

Sarah Widmeyer 13:17

So planning for you know, that eventuality is really important as well. So it’s almost it almost feels like it’s a bit of a you, you know, there’s a honeymoon and there’s a probably a leveling out, and then you’re going to need a little bit more.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 13:30

I think that’s true. And I think that’s why working with someone who has this great holistic view, like you’re describing at Richardson is so key, because you want somebody who really looks at your life, and doesn’t create a cookie cutter plan, right? who’s able to say, what’s your life going to look like? And what and is able to have those tough conversations sometimes, you know, none of us likes to think about that later chapter. But what I know is people who thought about and plan for it have a much happier time during that time.

Sarah Widmeyer 13:59

Yes, they do. So Dr. Amy, what are some of the areas of planning we should be thinking about?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 14:07 

I like to think about them in the What are you going to do in your retirement? So the activities and again comes back to purpose and meaning? Who are you going to spend your time with? I want to talk about that one a little bit. Where are you going to live? And then you always want to have again, this consideration of how your health could impact these things. That’s where that plan B question comes in. But we talked a little bit about what are you going to do but I encourage people, again, to take a look at not just what gives them meaning and purpose now in what they do. But what did they love doing when they were kids? There’s some edge research that shows that we’re pretty consistent through life. It’s called continuity theory. And so you can look back at some of the things you loved as a kid. And you may not do it in exactly the same way but it’ll give you some clues to some things that maybe you had to let go in the adult responsibility world that you might want to embrace. Again, that’s fascinating. It’s that fun. And then on the who you’re going to spend time with, I think we have to recognize again how important the connections and social support are. And I encourage people to think about this from the terms of emotional and practical support. So emotional support are the people we turn to for love and nurturing and connection and practical support are the people we turn to, to just get through life and get things done. And so what we want to look at is you can make a list of that you can just put emotional on one side of a page practical on the other and list out the people you would turn to right now for each of those. And if you only have a couple, you need to grow your social support. And the truth is, we need to grow it forever. Because as we age, people move and relationships change. And of course, people die. And so we want to grow our social support forever. And that’s how we stay with having enough connection right to the end of our life, no one has to age and be lonely. So but we get to have to plan for it. Take action. And then the third part about where you’re going to live. And this is again, a great place to use the plan B question. If you’re home where you are now suits you and you want to stay in it great. But just think about a couple of issues. If you developed night driving issues, which are really common, are you living somewhere where you might get isolated, if you can’t drive at night, might not be good public transportation, where you live? So thinking about how would that work, or if you developed a mobility issue, you know, I always joke my house in Toronto is a horrible house staging, because the only washroom is on the top floor and the stairs are narrow and steep. And, you know, there are all sorts of issues. So I look at that house and think that’s not a great house to age in now, doesn’t mean if you do this, that you have to put a for sale sign up. But what you could do then is say, okay, so if this no longer worked, what might be my next choice. And Sarah, you mentioned something earlier that I want to pick up on that. So key, which is our thinking evolves over time. So, you know, you may today say, Oh, this would be my next choice. And then that may shift that, okay, but start thinking about it. And then you stay in control. And you want to communicate this to the people you love about what it is you would want. And that way, you get to have that choice control and independence in your life.

Sarah Widmeyer  17:26 

Wow, that’s so interesting. I’m stuck on the going back to your childhood, and figuring out what are the continuity themes. I think you’re having me retiring down in Disney World.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 17:39

Or wearing Mickey Mouse years. And then of course, you want to figure in the health considerations on this. And that doesn’t mean can you may end up with no health issues. But a lot of people end up with even something just small that they have to work around. And so you want to think about that for your activities and your housing. And the more that we’re flexible and resilient, the more likely we are to have just great quality of life right till the end, the resilience and flexibility are key.

Sarah Widmeyer  18:24

So, while you ponder the question, how much do I need for retirement? Also, consider how some of these non financial factors can help you reimagine the space a phase of your life. For example, a dream book. If you would like to discuss some of today’s ideas, please reach out to your Richardson Wealth advisor with any questions. Dr. Amy, where can listeners find out more about your work?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix 18:50

Thank you. My website is I always give the www because the ending of my site sometimes isn’t easy to find. So it’s

Sarah Widmeyer  19:05 

Awesome. So for more information on retirement planning, please visit our website and follow Richardson Wealth on LinkedIn for the latest in wealth strategies. Conversations on Wealth is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you all for listening. Thank you Dr. Amy, and I look forward to our next conversation.