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Retirement In The 21st Century: What Has Changed And What Hasn’t

Two couples smiling together while walking on a beach near the ocean
October 25, 2023
Nikki Rhoades
Read Time
3 minutes

Once upon a time, retirement meant you were done working and ready to relax. However, changes in lifestyle trends have turned retirement into something else altogether. What does this mean for you? To figure it out, we’ll have to identify what has changed. These retirement trends are items you just may encounter in your own journey:

1. The age at which we retire is unpredictable

Once upon a time, reaching age 65 meant it was time to say adios to the office. Nowadays, of course, the economy has changed. In fact, the world has changed. A large chunk of would-be retirees are continuing to work past their anticipated retirement date, for a number of reasons. According to one study, some common reasons to push back retirement include facing a higher cost of living than originally anticipated, lack of faith in social security, inadequate finances and, most commonly, the poor economy.

2. We’re living longer, which means more healthcare costs

Centenarians, or people who live to be 100 or older, are becoming more and more commonplace in our society. Modern medicine has doubtlessly increased lifespans, and so, too, has a decrease in risks like foodborne illness. While centenarians tend to be “super agers,” or people that show signs of aging at a slower rate, the average, everyday person is living longer, too! This does mean, unfortunately, that additional healthcare costs may pop up. It’s important to think of this when planning your retirement to ensure you don’t experience an unexpected turn for the worse when your nest egg has dried up.

3. Aging in place is the new black

Once upon a time, retirement meant a few great years of memory-making bliss followed by eventual placement in a retirement home or assisted living facility. While that might have been the status quo for our grandparents, we’re certainly not looking forward to leaving our homes. For that reason, we’ve started to modify them to fit our needs. Stair lifts, walk-in tubs, grab bars, and changes as simple as rearranging furniture to diminish tripping hazards has made a world of difference for those looking to stay in their homes. Additionally, just think of all you’ll save by not moving into a nursing home!

4. Retirement? You mean partial retirement

It’s true that during retirement, many people return to work or take on projects to earn additional income. As with people pushing back retirement to adjust to a poor economy and changes in social security, some will retire, notice an unexpected change, and head back to work. Some simply get bored and enjoy having the opportunity to do something in their spare time. Either way, it’s undeniable that retirement nowadays often encompasses the occasional side job.

5. Adventure is in the eye of the beholder

While retirement was once about lazy days on the beach with a cocktail in hand, retirees are exploring adventure more and more. Nowadays, many find ziplining just as appealing as a tropical vacation… if not more so! There’s never been a better time to bring your dreams to life and try something adventurous.


Okay, so things have changed. Fortunately, some things have not changed at all. If you’ve been told to expect the following, then you’re well prepared:


1. More time with family

If you have discussed retirement with friends that are already retired, you’ve surely been told that “family is everything.” When you’re not traveling or indulging in the finer things, you’ll find that your family is on your mind all the time! Now that you’re not working, you’ll be able to find more time to fit family time in your schedule. And you’ll love every second of it.

2. You’ll take your health seriously

When you’re retired and have the time to focus on your body, diet, and overall health, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel. Unfortunately, there’s been a notable rise in obesity and, in association with that, diabetes. Retirement presents to you the opportunity to stay active and fit, effectively combating the very risks that may impact your health.

3. There’s no better time to explore a new hobby

You’ve got some spare time on your hands following your retirement, and you’ll doubtlessly observe an initial sense of boredom once you fall out of a working routine. It’s the ideal opportunity to explore a new hobby or dive head-first into something that’s always interested you. Your retirement is all about you, so make it count by investing in yourself.

4. Retirement is unpredictable

Planning for the future requires a lot of guesswork, and we do guess wrong when it comes to some things. While it’s easy to assume that things will unfold in a particular way, adulthood has surely taught you a thing or two about expecting the unexpected. The same is true for retirement – as much effort as you might put into planning, you’ll surely encounter a surprise or two along the way. Surprise is the spice of life, however, so stay optimistic!


Something as high anticipated as retirement will surely be on your mind for a while before and after you approach this landmark. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned – when it comes to something as big as retirement, sometimes it’s best to go with the flow. The future is bright, after all, and you’re the star of the show! 

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