happy retirementHave you been working all of your life looking forward to retirement when you can do more of what you really love?  Don’t wait and see how the story turns out – start planning your retirement to be sure you get want you want. Here are five things to plan that have been shown to help people get the most out of retirement (and you don’t have to be rich to succeed):
Social life.  A Greenwich study found that having a strong network of friends contributes a lot to a happy retirement. It was discovered that surprisingly having kids and grandkids had very little to no effect on a retiree’s contentment. Those people who had friends were just 30 percent happier than those who didn’t.
Good health. Having good health is probably the one thing that has the greatest impact on retirement bliss. According to a Watson Wyatts analysis, retirees who are in poor health are 50 percent less likely to be happy. The good news is that being retired gives you more time for exercise and other fun and healthy activities that you didn’t get to when you were tied down to your job.
Say “no” to dementia. The saying, “Use it or lose it” is true when it comes to your mind. Retirees need to engage in intellectually-challenging hobbies.  Richard Stim and Ralph Warner wrote Retire Happy: What You Can Do Now to Guarantee a Happy Retirement.  According to them, retirees over age 70 who keep stimulating their mind are two-and-a-half times less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Money can’t buy happiness.” Yes, you need enough to be comfortable, but having a lot of wealth hasn’t been shown to make you happier after you retire. The Watson Wyatt survey indicated that the actual amount of money available after retirement was less important than being able to maintain a pre-retirement lifestyle once retired.
“You are more than your job.” In his book, The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement, Robert Delamontagne points out that the more you are defined by your employment, the harder it is to adapt to retired life.
Idleness is one factor that greatly contributes to dissatisfaction with retirement. Researchers from the University of Maryland found that retirees who doing something with their time, like volunteering or getting a part-time job, were happier and healthier. The feeling of usefulness contributes to happiness, good health and longevity.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.